20 December 2009

Eggnog


Who makes eggnog anymore?

Well, if you never have and do, you will never be satisfied with the store-bought concoctions again. The richness and flavor will win you over forever -- and it's not hard to make. Of the many recipes out there, here is one that recently appeared in The New York Times:


EGGNOG



Adapted from "The All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking" (Scribner)

Time: 20 minutes plus one hour's chilling

INGREDIENTS:

6 fresh egg yolks

1 cup confectioners' sugar

2 cups good quality bourbon

1 cup cream

1 1/2 cups milk

6 fresh egg whites

Pinch sea salt

1 nutmeg.

DIRECTIONS:

1. In an electric mixer or by hand, whisk together egg yolks and  3/8 cup confectioners' sugar until light, dense, and mixture forms a ribbon trail when whisk is lifted. While whisking, very slowly add 1 cup bourbon. Cover this mixture, and refrigerate for one hour.

2. Whisk in remaining bourbon, then beat in cream and milk. Add  1/2 cup more milk if it is too thick. In another bowl, whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt, until fluffy. Slowly add remaining confectioners' sugar while whisking; keep whisking until whites are shiny and hold firm but not stiff peaks. Fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture.

3. To serve, ladle eggnog into small cups — demitasse cups would work well — making sure to get some foam on each. Grate a little nutmeg on top of each.

(I prefer allspice to nutmeg.)

Yield: 8 servings.

* * *

History [from Wikipedia]:

The origins, etymology, and even the ingredients used to make the original eggnog drink are debated. Eggnog, or a very similar drink, may have originated in East Anglia, England, though it may also have been developed from posset (a medieval European beverage made with hot milk). An article by Nanna Rögnvaldsdóttir, an Icelandic food expert, states that the drink adopted the "nog" part of its name from the word "noggin", a Middle English term used to describe a small, wooden, carved mug used to serve alcohol. Another name for this British drink was Egg Flip. Yet another story is that the term derived from the name "egg-and-grog", a common Colonial term used to describe rum. Eventually the term was shortened to "egg'n'grog", then "eggnog".

The ingredients for the drink were too expensive and uncommon for the lower classes, but it was popular among the aristocracy. "You have to remember, the average Londoner rarely saw a glass of milk," says author and historian James Humes (To Humes It May Concern, July 1997). "There was no refrigeration, and the farms belonged to the big estates. Those who could get milk and eggs to make eggnog mixed it with brandy or Madeira or even sherry."

The drink crossed the Atlantic to the English colonies during the 18th century. Since brandy and wine were heavily taxed, rum from the Triangular Trade with the Caribbean was a cost-effective substitute. The inexpensive liquor coupled with plentiful farm and dairy products helped the drink become very popular in America. When the supply of rum to the newly-founded United States was reduced as a consequence of the American Revolutionary War, Americans turned to domestic whiskey—and eventually bourbon in particular—as a substitute.

06 December 2009

Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe


Recently published, Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe, is both a food and travel book, beautifully produced by National Geographic:

"Every cuisine tells a unique story about its countryside, climate, and culture, and in these pages you'll meet the men and women who transform nature's bounty into a thousand gustatory delights."

From Barnes & Noble:

"This appetizing dish is the latest installment in the popular National Geographic series that includes Journeys of a Lifetime and Sacred Places of a Lifetime. Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe might be the ultimate self-indulgence for an armchair traveler with culinary inclinations. This profusely illustrated, holiday-sized pictorial takes you a far-ranging, fancy-free tour of the best destinations on earth to find individual cuisines. True to expectations, the National Geographic editors don't target just five-star restaurants and world-renowned chefs; they also pinpoint off-the-beaten path cafés and eateries."





Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe
by  National Geographic
Hardcover
320 pages, 350 color photographs
8 7/8" x 11 3/4"
Pub. Date: October 2009

Available at bookstores and online at Barnes and Noble

World's Most Extravagant Meals


Want to treat someone special to an extraordinary repast for the holidays? Money no object of course.
Here are a few suggestions from a recent article, "World's Most Extravagant Meals", in Forbes. Tough choices.

"To create our list of the world's 11 most extravagant and lavish dining experiences, we tapped luxury experts such as concierges and travel consultants, and culled luxury blogs and newspaper headlines to come up with a list of dining experiences deemed exclusive by virtue of their exorbitant price or their limited access."

Read the entire article at Forbes.

26 November 2009

The 11 Best Cookbooks Of 2009

One of the annual lists of the year's best food books has been released by NPR, appropriately titled, "The 11 Best Cookbooks Of 2009", by T. Susan Chang:

"Michael Pollan famously lamented, earlier this year, that cooking has become a spectator sport. Not if this year's cookbooks have anything to do with it! Traditional cuisines get broken down and re-introduced, ingredients that have become familiar only recently get recombined as casually as speed-daters. Meanwhile, the bakers outdid themselves this year, clarifying flavors and streamlining their methods until they fit snugly in anybody's kitchen. This year's cookbook instructions are detailed and sure-handed, so you'll feel confident even taking on those fiddly little jobs you usually leave to your good friend Joe, the Trader."


A wonderful list to help with the season's gift-giving or as suggestions for additions to your personal culinary library.

Go to The 11 Best Cookbooks Of 2009, to view the list and article.

The books are available online at Barnes and Noble.

22 November 2009

Thanksgiving Cooking

Photo: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times


How to prepare the turkey and the stuffing; what sides to make; what wine to serve; what desserts will be a hit?

Instead of highlighting one dish, the best suggestions and more can be found in this article, "Thanksgiving Cooking", from The New York Times.

And please, don't forget the cranberries...

09 November 2009

I Know How to Cook, by Ginette Mathiot


Widely available in Europe since 1932, I Know How to Cook, by Ginette Mathiot, this best selling cookbook has just been published in English, and is now available in this country.

"I Know How to Cook is to France what The Silver Spoon is to Italy. A best-seller since its first publication in 1932, it is now available in English for the first time. I Know How to Cook reveals all the secrets of good, simple French cooking and the foundations of modern cuisine. Containing more than 1,400 authentic, simple and easy-to-follow recipes, this classic text is fully updated for modern kitchens by experts in classic French cooking. French bistro food has grown hugely in popularity, and I Know How to Cook demonstrates how easy and accessible classic dishes like boeuf bourguignon and tarte tatin can be.


I Know How to Cook
By Ginette Mathiot
Pub. Date: October 2009
Publisher: Phaidon Press, Incorporated
Hardcover, 976pp
ISBN-13: 9780714857367
ISBN: 071485736X

Available online at Barnes and Noble.

13 October 2009

Rules to Eat By, by Michael Pollan

Lettering by Jacob Magraw-Mickelson






Rules to eat by. Sounds great, but few people even care about them, except three rules, if a food or meal doesn't have lots of salt, sugar and fat, it's not food. And it's even better if it's loaded with high fructose corn syrup, or if on a "diet", and it contains sucralose or aspartame, to make you feel "better" about consuming the chemical glob.

"Deciding what to eat, indeed deciding what qualifies as food, is not easy in such an environment. When Froot Loops can earn a Smart Choices check mark, a new industrywide label that indicates a product’s supposed healthfulness, we know we can’t rely on the marketers, with their dubious health claims, or for that matter on the academic nutritionists who collaborate on such labeling schemes. (One of them defended the inclusion of Froot Loops on the grounds that they are better for you than doughnuts. So why doesn’t the label simply say that?) Making matters worse, official government pronouncements about eating aren’t necessarily much more reliable, not when the food industry influences federal nutrition guidelines. But even when the “best science” prevails, that science can turn out to be misguided — as when the official campaign against saturated fat got us to trade butter for stick margarine loaded with trans fats, a solution that turned out to be worse than the problem."

View the entire article, Rules to Eat By, and the concise Food Rules: Your Dietary Dos and Don'ts, at The New York Times.

07 October 2009

Closing the Book on Gourmet

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images


For anyone interested in food and wine, and all things related to food and wine, the announcement of the closing of Gourmet Magazine will end a wonderful era in the field of gustatory reporting. A much better publication than Bon Apetit in my opinion, but with less advertising revenue, Conde Nast, has chosen to go the way of mass appeal, rather than quality content by keeping Bon Apetit rolling instead of its more respected sister publication.

More from The New York Times:

"The magazine, founded in 1941, thrived on a rush of postwar aspiration and became a touchstone for readers who wanted lives filled with dinner parties, reservations at important restaurants and exotic but comfortable travel.

Although it was easy to paint Gourmet as the food magazine for the elite, it was a chronicler of a nation’s food history, from its early fascination with the French culinary canon to its discovery of Mediterranean and Asian flavors to its recent focus on the source of food and the politics surrounding it."

View the entire article, Closing the Book on Gourmet, by Kim Severson.

02 October 2009

New York Cooks, by Joan Krellenstein and Barbara Winkler

A new publication to hit the bookshelves, New York Cooks, by Joan Krellenstein and Barbara Winkler, is worth highlighting. From the publisher:

"There’s something in the air in New York City today: the delicious aromas from an unprecedented number of trendsetting restaurants. Here, direct from Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Café, Blue Smoke, Picholine, Barolo, Café Des Artistes (to name a few) are some of the best recipes around. They include such mouthwatering original creations as Bacon Wrapped Muscovy Duck Breast, Blackfish with Spaghetti Squash, Cara Cara Orange and Bibb Salad, Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, and dozens more. Illustrated with gorgeous full-color photography and featuring interviews with superstar chefs, New York Cooks offers cooks from coast to coast a chance to experience the latest culinary masterpieces—just the way they serve them in New York."

And a review in the Wall Street Journal is also worth reading:

"In addition to offering tasty recipes and useful lore, "New York Cooks" is about glitz and trendiness. (For "New York" read "Manhattan": Chefs from humbler boroughs need not apply.) The book thus can be read as a food-fashion snapshot, letting future foodies know what dining in 2009 New York was like. Given the nature of the restaurant business, many of the 38 eateries included here will be gone before long; one, the venerable Café des Artistes, closed even before the book went to press. Authors Joan Krellenstein and Barbara Winkler also provide profiles of the chefs, who list some of their pet peeves and preferences..." WSJonline

New York Cooks: 100 Recipes from the City's Best Chefs
by Joan Krellenstein, Barbara Winkler
Pub. Date: September 2009
Publisher: Sixth&Spring
Format: Hardcover, 224pp
ISBN-13: 9781933027784
ISBN: 1933027789

Available online at Barnes and Noble.

02 September 2009

Clean Food by Terry Walters

If you are one of the many consumers concerned about the foods you eat, where they come from, how they are grown and transported, and in prepared foods the amount of chemicals, preservatives, and countless other unnecessary ingredients contained in them, this popular poblication is worth your time:

From the Publisher:

"More than a cookbook, Clean Food is a feast for the senses that will nourish mind, body, soul…and the planet, too. With more than 200 fresh, seasonal, and tempting vegan recipes, it will help everyone eat the way the want: close to the source.

"From the White House kitchen to fast food restaurants, everyone’s discussing “the sustainable diet.” But what exactly does that mean? Terry Walters explains it all, and shows us how to eat seasonal, unprocessed, and locally-grown foods that are good for us and the environment.

Walters’s emphasizes tastes as much as ingredients in delicious recipes that include whole grains, vegetables, legumes, sea vegetables, nuts, and seeds, and range from Crispy Chickpea Fritters to Spicy Thai Tempeh with Cashews to a vegan and sugar-free Chocolate Lover’s Tart that’s absolutely luscious! Since they’re arranged from spring to winter (with a chapter for “anytime at all”), it’s easy to find the right meals for every season of the year.

Terry’s dynamic personality shines through on every page, particularly in her extensive introduction to the world of whole foods (which includes a glossary of ingredients). This is certain to be the cookbook of this and every season—the one that will help us make positive, sustainable, and yet delicious changes to the way we eat every day."


Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source with More Than 200 Recipes for a Healthy and Sustainable You
by Terry Walters
Publisher: Sterling Epicure
Pub. Date: September 2009
ISBN-13: 9781402768149
304pp

Available online from Barnes and Noble.

30 August 2009

Offbeat Traveler: Ithaa Undersea restaurant at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island


Well, for something new and different the Los Angeles Times:

"Ithaa Undersea restaurant sits 16 feet below sea level at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, a hotel resort in Hilton's luxury brand that occupies two islands. Maldives is a country of almost 1,200 islands about 300 miles from the southernmost points of India and Sri Lanka."

View the entire articles at Los Angeles Times.

10 August 2009

All about Julia Child

Julia Child is back in the news because of the recent release of Julie and Julia (with Meryl Streep, as if you didn't know). And the renewed interest has been reflected in the demand for her cookbooks and books about her.

So, it is a good time to revisit one her major works, Mastering the Art of French Cooking : 40th Anniversary Edition, by Julia Child, Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle.

From Barnes and Noble:

"Anyone can cook in the French manner anywhere,” wrote Mesdames Beck, Bertholle, and Child, “with the right instruction.” And here is the book that, for forty years, has been teaching Americans how.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking is for both seasoned cooks and beginners who love good food and long to reproduce at home the savory delights of the classic cuisine, from the historic Gallic masterpieces to the seemingly artless perfection of a dish of spring-green peas...

...Since there has never been a book as instructive and as workable as Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the techniques learned here can be applied to recipes in all other French cookbooks, making them infinitely more usable. In compiling the secrets of famous cordons bleus, the authors have produced a magnificent volume that is sure to find the place of honor in every kitchen in America."

Mastering the Art of French Cooking : 40th Anniversary Edition
by Julia Child, Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Pub. Date: October 2001
ISBN-13: 9780375413407
752pp
Edition Description: 40th Anniversary Edition

And if you've seen the movie, there is Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell (Paperback - Media Tie).

The bestselling memoir that's "irresistible....A kind of Bridget Jones meets The French Chef" (Philadelphia Inquirer). Directed by Nora Ephron, starring Amy Adams as Julie and Meryl Streep as Julia, the film Julie & Julia released by Sony Pictures on April 19, 2009.

***

See also, Behind the Scenes With the Dishes (The New York Times).

Both books, and many others available online at Barnes and Noble.

06 August 2009

Creating Your Own Recipe Book, by Shivani Vora

An article in the Wall Street Journal Online, Creating Your Own Recipe Book, by Shivani Vora, may be of interest to those of you with reams of recipes and how to highlight and share them with other cooking aficianados.

"Customized cookbook publishers have existed for years, but most have a large minimum number of orders and are best bets for fund-raising events. Today, a crop of publishers let home chefs inexpensively design and create a single book online for their personal use."

The prices are right. All you have to do is selects the service and assemble the creation.




View the entire article here.

03 August 2009

Meet the Food Bloggers





Meet the Food Bloggers

Can't get enough food-related blogs?

Expand your gustatory blog horizons by visiting this article in the TIMESONLINE (London), to find some blogs you may not easily stumble on. Some are familiar to hard-core blog foodies. All have a unique perspective; some dead serious, others quite entertaining. And all are done with enthusiasm. Visit at your own risk!

See for yourself at TIMESONLINE.

More Food Headlines

Photo: Los Angeles Times


Headline from the Los Angeles Times: "State pesticides department resumes review of methyl iodide"

Chemical to replace chemical. And none safe. And this is just one of many used in agriculture. Of course, if you're into organic produce, you have less to worry about.

"'As chemists and physicians familiar with the effects of this chemical, we are concerned that pregnant women and the fetus, children, the elderly, farmworkers and other people living near application sites would be at serious risk if methyl iodide is permitted for use in agriculture,' the letter stated."

What about the residue on food itself?

Read the entire article at the Los Angeles Times.

31 July 2009

News: House Approves New Food-Safety Laws

It's about time -- but is it enough?

House Approves New Food-Safety Laws

By William Neuman
Published: July 30, 2009

“No legislation like this has moved forward this far in decades to overhaul the food safety laws,” said Erik D. Olson, director of food and consumer product safety issues at the Pew Charitable Trusts. “It’s a pretty historic moment.”

Read the entire article at The New York Times.

15 July 2009

Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage

In our ongoing effort to highlight new and noteworthy publications related to food, Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage, grabbed our attention. Historical and cultural overviews of certain foods, or geographical locations of food production and consumption, are always of particular interest. Edible History of Humanity certainly fills the criteria. An overview from Barnes and Noble:

"From the bestselling author of A History of the World in Six Glasses, this is a riveting history of humanity told through the foods we eat.

Throughout history, food has done more than simply provide sustenance; it has acted as a tool of social transformation, political organization, geopolitical competition, industrial development, military conflict and economic expansion. And today, in the culmination of a process that has been going on for thousands of years, the foods we choose in the supermarket connect us to global debates about trade, development, and the adoption of new technologies. An Edible History of Humanity is a journey through the uses of food that have helped to shape and transform societies around the world, from prehistory to the present.

Drawing on genetics, archaeology, anthropology, ethno-botany and economics, the story of these gastronomic revolutions is a deeply satisfying account of the whole of human history. "

Edible History of Humanity
by Tom Standage
Publisher: Walker & Company
Pub. Date: May 2009
ISBN-13: 9780802715883
288pp, hardcover

***

Available online at Barnes and Noble.

10 July 2009

The Healthiest Foods On Earth

Photo© Wojtek Kryczka/iStockphoto


More and more items keep appearing in the press, from major news organizations, to weekly neighborhood newspapers, and a legion of blogs and manufacturers' web sites (the site for high fructose corn syrup site is hilarious) on the importance of proper nutrition through "whole foods" especially natural and organic. Now, from Forbes:

"What is the best diet for human beings?

Vegetarian? Vegan? High-protein? Low-fat? Dairy-Free?

Hold on to your shopping carts: There is no perfect diet for human beings. At least not one that's based on how much protein, fat or carbohydrates you eat."

Read more at The Healthiest Foods On Earth by Jonny Bowden.

Nutrition Data





Nutritiondata.com is a site chock full of information on various foods, restaurant menus, and more, including:

>Nutrition glossary: Common nutrition terms defined

>Estimated Glycemic Load™, IF (Inflammation Factor) Ratings™, and omega-3 to omega-6 ratios and their effects on your body

>Fast-food nutrition facts for restaurants like Arby's, Burger King, McDonald's, Starbucks, and more

>Sensible diet advice

>Find foods highest in any vitamin or mineral or lowest in carbs, saturated fats, or sugars

>Help for newly diagnosed diabetics

>Diet and heart health

>Gaining weight the healthy way

>Weight loss tips, news, and tools

>My ND: Create and analyze recipes, track your diet, and save your favorite foods

>Can calorie restriction extend your life?

>The latest in the low-carb debate

>Nutritional supplements: Do you need them?

>Quick start: Just one click stocks your My Foods list with foods that fit your diet, such as low-carb, low-calorie, low-fat, heart-healthy, quick and healthy, or super-nutritious




If you are truly interested in what is contained in foods beyond what is included in an item's nutrition label, you will probably find yourself spending a good deal of time here exploring some of your favorite edibles.

Read more here.

06 July 2009

Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less

Author of How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman's new cookbook, Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less, looks like it could be another worthy addition to your culinary library. Bittman's offerings in The New York Times are always informative, often off-beat, and usually quite entertaining -- especially the videos.

Synopsis (from Barnes and Noble):

"Cooking can be one of life's essential pleasures, even when you have to put dinner on the table every night. Now, with Mark Bittman's trusted voice as your guide, quick, easy, and fresh meals are always a realistic option.

Presented here are 404 dishes -- 101 for each season -- that will get you in and out of the kitchen in 20 minutes or less. Mark Bittman's recipe sketches provide exactly the directions a home cook needs to prepare a repertoire of eggs, seafood, poultry, meats, vegetables, sandwiches, and even desserts. Add a salad here, a loaf of bread there, and these dishes become full meals that are better than takeout and far less expensive.

These 404 recipes are as delicious and sophisticated as they are simple: Make the most of summer produce with Scallop and Peach Ceviche or Apricot Cream Upside-Down Pie. When the air starts to cool, try Salmon and Sweet Potato with Coconut Curry Sauce or Broiled Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts. On a cold winter night, warm up with White Bean Stew served over crusty slices of olive oil-brushed baguette. Or welcome spring with Shrimp with Asparagus, Dill, and Spice or Poached Eggs and Truffled Arugula Prosciutto Salad.

Because good ingredients are the backbone of delicious home cooking, Bittman includes a guide to the foods you'll want on hand to cook the Kitchen Express way, as well as suggestions for seasonal menus and lists of recipes for specific uses, like brown-bag lunches or the best dishes for reheating. With Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express, you can have dinner on the table in not much more time than it takes to read a traditional recipe."

Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less
by Mark Bittman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Pub. Date: July 2009
ISBN-13: 9781416575665
233pp

Available online at Barnes and Noble.

03 July 2009

Maplerama 2009; Tomato Maple Salsa Recipe

Here is an idea for summer vacationers in the Vermont area this July: The Maplerama 2009, will take place in Bennington, Vermont, on July 24, 25, 26, 2009.

"The Bennington County Sugarmakers will be hosting Maplerama 2009 on July 24, 25 and 26, 2009. The event will be held at Colgate Park in Bennington, Vermont in conjunction with the First Annual Shires Maple Festival. Friday afternoon and evening will feature a trade show and cocktail party; Saturday will provide a full day of sugar house tours with a Saturday night banquet. On Sunday there will be additional tours or technical sessions and a barbeque. Participants will also be able to enjoy the food and activities of the Maple Festival which will run from 10AM to 9PM on Saturday and 10AM to 5 PM on Sunday (times to be confirmed)."

For more information and registration, go to Maplerama 2009.

And also, from vermontmaple.org website, a recipe from Maple Syrup is a Natural in your Summertime Cooking!


ANNETTE’S WICKED GOOD TOMATO MAPLE SALSA

6 big ripe tomatoes
1 large vidalia onion, small dice
2 red bell peppers, small dice
1/2 habenero pepper, minced
1 jalepeno pepper, minced
1 T. garlic, minced
1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 t. chopped chives
2 T. chopped dill
2 T. chopped cilantro
2 T. chopped parsley
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. lime juice
1/3 c. VT maple syrup
2 T. soy sauce
1/2 t. cayenne
1 t. cumin

Cut tomatoes in half across the width and scoop out
the seeds. Chop tomatoes into 1/2 inch cubes.
Combine liquid ingredients and toss with everything
else. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Cover and
refrigerate overnight for full flavor saturation. Stir
occasionally. Serve with big, solid tortilla chips or
over grilled meat or fish. This will last one week in
the refrigerator.

vermontmaple.org

27 June 2009

Vilcek Prize and its Creative Promise Prize in the Culinary Arts

An item of interest for hard-core, die-hard, aspiring chefs: the Vilcek Foundation has chosen the culinary arts as the 2010 category for its Vilcek Prize and its Creative Promise Prize in the arts.

"The Vilcek Foundation awards the Vilcek Prize annually in two categories - biomedical research and the arts and humanities - to foreign-born individuals who, since coming to this country, have made lasting and exemplary contributions in their fields. Independent committees composed of leading experts in their respective fields are charged with selecting the award recipients.

The original Vilcek Prize program was expanded in 2008 to include the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise, with the purpose of drawing attention to the role younger, midcareer immigrants play in sustaining the excellence and vibrancy of the biomedical sciences and the arts in the United States. To be eligible for the 2010 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise applicants must have been born outside the United States and be 38 years old or younger as of January 1, 2010. The application deadline is July 31, 2009. For more information, visit www.vilcek.org or email creativepromise@vilcek.org.

The Vilcek Prize winners are awarded $50,000 in cash along with a commemorative trophy designed by Stefan Sagmeister. Creative Promise recipients receive a $25,000 cash award and a plaque, also designed by Stefan Sagmeister. All prizes are presented at the Foundation’s annual awards ceremony and dinner held in New York City each spring."

For more information or to apply online go to www.vilcek.org

26 June 2009

Black Garlic

I am always searching for new, different, and exciting new taste sensations. An ingredient I can hardly do without in many dishes and salads, is garlic.

An article, Black and bold, by Wanda A. Adams, Advertiser Food Editor, in the Honolulu Advertiser, caught my attention.

"It looks like a black truffle, has the texture of fudge and its flavor has been compared to molasses, candy, coffee, balsamic vinegar, licorice, dark soy sauce, cheese, wine — even French onion soup.

A new kind of chocolate?

No, it's black garlic, a flavoring the Washington Post has called 'the next 'It' ingredient...

...Black garlic is made by a variety of methods, most of them proprietary, but it began simply as a form of preserved garlic, aged for years (literally) in crocks in chilly Korean temperatures. Koreans enjoy the jet-black, creamy-textured cloves as a healthful snack; they're believed to have all the healthful properties of garlic (mainly having to do with blood circulation, prevention of coronary disease and anti-inflammatory effects) and then some. MSDFarm and other producers have applied modern technology to the process, using a 21-day fermentation process in specially made clay pots."

Intrigued?

See the whole article at the Honolulu Advertiser.

***

Now, where can I find some around here.....

23 June 2009

Summer Seafood Recipes a la Rhode Island





Here are some delightful (mostly traditional) recipes for preparing your summer ocean harvest: lobster, quahogs, steamers and clams, and more, courtesy of The Providence Journal.

Here is one of the featured recipes:

NEW ENGLAND LOBSTER BAKE
1 pound each littleneck clams, mussels
2 cups white wine (or water)
¼ cup sea salt
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic
12 red new potatoes
4 live lobsters, about 1 to 1½ pounds each
Melted butter, optional

Thoroughly wash clams and mussels in cold water to remove any sand and grit.

Fill large 8-gallon pot with about 4 gallons water and heat to a rapid boil. Add wine, salt, peppercorns, thyme and garlic (instead of garlic, you could peel and add a small whole onion to the pot); return to a boil. Add
potatoes; boil 5 minutes.

Add lobsters, clams and mussels. Reduce heat, cover tightly and simmer 7 minutes.

Remove seafood and vegetables from pot and place on large serving platter or individual plates. Strain broth and serve in bowl on the side.
Serve melted butter for dipping if desired.

Serves 4, each 500 calories, 4 grams fat, 1,130 mg. sodium.

-- Adapted from a recipe by chef Mark Baker of the Four Seasons Hotel.

View more recipes at Rhode Island Recipes.

21 June 2009

The Flip Side of 7 Major Superfoods

The Flip Side of 7 Major Superfoods
posted by Mel, selected from Natural Solutions magazine Jun 17, 2009 12:02 pm; courtesy of care2, Copyright © 2009 Care2.com, inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Some foods seem to have it all. They’re nutritious, medicinally potent and great tasting. Magazines and newspapers sing their praises and urge us to eat our fill. But no food is perfect, and even those with a host of medicinal properties can have their shortcomings. Since none of these super foods come with disclaimers, here’s the flip side of seven highly touted medicinal foods.

Tomatoes. Nowadays no one talks about tomatoes without mentioning lycopene. And with good reason: This potent antioxidant may help prevent atherosclerosis and cancers of the prostate, breast and lungs.

In a testament to nature’s mysterious ways, lycopene works best in concert with the tomato’s other important phytonutrients rather than in isolation. In fact, in one study, lycopene alone didn’t inhibit prostate cancer cells, while the whole tomato did. Lycopene is more concentrated in tomato pastes and sauces and is better absorbed when the tomato’s been cooked or has a touch of oil. No one has tested the role of basil.

When buying tomatoes, choose the reddest you can find; yellow and orange varieties lack lycopene. Lastly, as a member of the nightshade family, which includes eggplant, potatoes and peppers, tomatoes may aggravate arthritis pain, though few existing scientific studies establish a link. If you suffer from arthritis, you may want to try eliminating tomatoes (and the other nightshades) from your diet to see if your pain improves.

Garlic. In addition to warding off vampires, one to three cloves of garlic daily can help lower cholesterol and protect against cancers of the stomach, prostate and colon. Garlic’s antibacterial and antifungal properties also boost the immune system. But before you start popping cloves, realize that they’ve got to be crushed to make their benefits available. The key healthful ingredient, allicin, only forms when exposed to air. Similarly, when you cook with garlic, let the crushed or chopped cloves stand for 10 minutes first. And if you’d rather take a garlic supplement, make sure it contains allicin.

Not everyone’s gonzo about garlic. Ayurveda, the traditional Indian healing system, cautions that garlic heats the body, so it could aggravate problems with digestion, hot flashes, excessive body heat or tendencies to be impatient or angry. And although garlic thins the blood, which can help lower blood pressure, it also increases the risk of bleeding if you’re having surgery or are taking blood thinners, including aspirin.

Leafy Greens. When measured on the good-for-you scale, kale, collards, mustard greens and spinach reign supreme in the vegetable world. High in calcium, antioxidants and the phytonutrient lutein, leafy greens may help prevent cancers of the breast, colon and prostate. And a recent study shows that lutein may even help reverse macular degeneration. Of the four, kale contains the most antioxidants and has high levels of easily absorbed calcium.

That’s all good, but spinach poses a potentially painful problem. Though rich in potassium, folic acid and carotenoids, its green leaves contain high levels of oxalate, which can contribute to kidney stones. If you’re prone to calcium oxalate stones (the most common), limit your spinach intake.

Also, long journeys from field to table and warm temperatures can destroy up to half of these greens’ phytonutrients. So buy local-grown greens whenever you can, and eat them soon thereafter.

Salmon. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings weekly of cold water, fatty fish such as salmon for a good reason. High in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon may lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. However, not all salmon warrants unqualified praise. Ninety percent of the salmon eaten in the United States is farmed rather than wild, and it contains higher levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a probable carcinogen. Farmed salmon is also more likely to be raised in polluted water and to face diseases not typically found in wild stock. Wild salmon may contain fewer toxins than farmed fish, but mercury contamination remains a problem.

Unfortunately, the ocean populations can’t support the world’s appetite for this nutritious fish. So buy wild salmon that’s been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as sustainably harvested. For farmed salmon, follow guidelines on safe levels for consumption (see oceansalive.org), and cut away the fat and skin before cooking to limit the PCBs. Even better, alternate salmon with sardines or anchovies, which have fewer contaminants and can withstand larger harvests.

Olive Oil. Popeye was right: Olive oil deserves our love. In 2004 the FDA approved the claim that two tablespoons of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. A recent study shows it may also block the action of the Her-2 breast cancer gene.

To ensure that you receive all of these benefits, buy extra virgin olive oil, rather than refined or light, both of which are treated with chemical solvents that destroy many of the oil’s nutrients. Also, choose oil in dark containers because light can damage the antioxidants.

When cooking with olive oil, avoid getting the pan so hot that the olive oil starts to smoke. Excessive heat ruins the oil’s flavor and creates harmful byproducts such as trans fats.

Lastly, since olive oil is almost 75 percent monounsaturated fat, it won’t give you all the healthy fats your body needs to stay well. Supplement your diet with the polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed and hempseed oils. You can drizzle these temperature-sensitive oils over salads and grains.

Almonds. The most nutrient dense of all the nuts, almonds pack a healing mix of vitamins, protein and healthy monounsaturated fats. Just one-quarter cup delivers 40 percent of the daily value for vitamin E, and almonds may also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol—in one study, two handfuls of almonds daily decreased LDL cholesterol by 9.4 percent. Studies suggest almonds also reduce the risk for atherosclerosis and cancers of the colon and prostate.

Exposure to air, heat and pesticides can make the healthy almond a shell of its former self. Commercial roasting, for example, deep-fries the nuts in saturated fats, negating any cholesterol lowering benefit. Buy dry-roasted almonds with no sugar, corn syrup, MSG or preservatives added. If you’re roasting them yourself, do it gently at 160 to 170 degrees to preserve the natural oils. Even with that precaution, roasting significantly decreases vitamin A, pantothenic acid and thiamin levels, though other nutrients appear unaffected.

When it comes to nuts, freshness matters a lot. Buy organic almonds in their shells and, ideally, in hermetically sealed packaging. If you prefer to buy almonds in bulk, they should smell sweet and nutty, not sharp and bitter.
While whole nuts provide the most nutrition, shelled almonds are still quite nutritious, although they may become rancid sooner, especially if sliced. Keep them stored in a sealed container in a cool, dry, shady place or in the refrigerator or freezer.

Of course, anyone with nut allergies should shy away.

Soy. In 1999 the FDA approved the claim that eating 25 grams of soy protein daily decreases the risk of heart disease. Eating soy may also protect against cancers of the uterus, colon, prostate and breast. While some studies say soy alleviates menopausal symptoms and protects against osteoporosis, the evidence is inconclusive. Controversy also exists about whether soy isoflavones, a group of phyto-estrogens that stimulate breast cell growth, may increase breast cancer risk in those prone to it. Several studies show no link, but people with breast cancer or those predisposed to it should eschew soy isoflavones supplements for soy protein itself. You’re less likely to overdose on isoflavones with soy protein, and it carries more health benefits as well.

Soy can trigger allergic reactions such as nasal congestion, asthma, fatigue and itching. Kids aged three months to two years may be particularly sensitive, though they usually outgrow it. If you suspect you’re allergic, avoid eating soy for three weeks and then reintroduce it and watch for symptoms.

Many people worry that genetically modified soy can cause organ damage and allergic reactions. Choose organic soy to avoid the otherwise ubiquitous GMO varieties.

Natural Solutions: Vibrant Health, Balanced Living offers its readers the latest news on health conditions, herbs and supplements, natural beauty products, healing foods and conscious living.

20 June 2009

12 fab foodie experiences




***

If you couldn't find a recipe to your satisfaction in the previous blog, how about traveling to experience a new food sensation?

This article, 12 fab foodie experiences, by the author of super-food blog Chez Pim picks a dozen ultimate food experiences from around the world. From timesonline (United Kingdom) this article might (or might not) supply you with an idea or two. Here is the No. 6 suggestion:

"6. Eat a Yangcheng hairy crab, preferably in or near Yangcheng Lake in China

Hairy crabs are one of the great Chinese delicacies. They are not totally hairy, just hairy around the legs. They have an extraordinary flavour that’s difficult to describe. I would just say that its reputation as a great delicacy is absolutely deserved. However, after the meal, don’t forget to drink ginger tea, or have a dessert featuring ginger. Hairy Crabs are very high in Yang energy, and ginger, a Yin food, will help balance it. You’ll catch a cold otherwise. Trust me on this."

View all the tasty suggestions: 12 fab foodie experiences

Recipes from the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen

Photo: Eric Boyd / Los Angeles Times



Looking for new contemporary sources for recipes and meal plans? Or a twist on an old food favorite?

Why not view the many gustatory sensations available in the Food section of The Los Angeles Times:

"We test, on average, more than 600 recipes a year. Roughly 400 of these make it to print. That means you don't have to worry about a trial run before serving one of our recipes to company — rest assured, it should work the first time out of the gate."

Recipes from the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen.

09 June 2009

Food Inc., the Movie

Photo: Magnolia Pictures; Orion Classics






For those of you interested in the origin of the items on your dinner plate, you may or may not want to see this film, Food, Inc. I know just reading the food labels in my local Pathmark is scary enough (which is I why shop mostly at the nearby Whole Foods).

From The New York Times, the Review Summary:

"Documentary filmmaker Robert Kenner uses reports by Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser and The Omnivore's Dilemma author Michael Pollan as a springboard to exploring where the food we purchase at the grocery store really comes from, and what it means for the health of future generations. By exposing the comfortable relationships between business and government, Kenner gradually shines light on the dark underbelly of the American food industry. The USDA and FDA are supposed to protect the public, so why is it that both government regulatory agencies have been complicit in allowing corporations to put profit ahead of consumer health, the American farmer, worker safety, and even the environment? As chicken breasts get bigger and tomatoes are genetically engineered not to go bad, 73,000 Americans fall ill from powerful new strains of E. coli every year, obesity levels are skyrocketing, and adult diabetes has reached epidemic proportions. Perhaps if the general public knew how corporations use exploited laws and subsidies to create powerful monopolies, the outrage would be enough to make us think more carefully about the food we put into our bodies.

~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide"

500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late : And the Very Best Places to Eat Them

Sort of a companion to the preceding blog, The Food of a Younger Land, 500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late : And the Very Best Places to Eat Them, by Jane Stern, Michael Stern, is a cookbook, and a travel book guide for a summer eating road trip.

Barnes and Noble says:

"What are the all-time best dishes America has to offer, the ones you must taste before they vanish, so delicious they deserve to be a Holy Grail for travelers? Where’s the most vibrant Key lime pie in Florida? The most sensational chiles rellenos in New Mexico? The most succulent fried clams on the Eastern Seaboard? The most memorable whoopie pies, gumbos, tacos, cheese steaks, crab feasts? In 500 Things to Eat Before It’s Too Late, "America’s leading authorities on the culinary delights to be found while driving" (Newsweek) return to their favorite subject with a colorful, bursting-at-the-seams life list of America’s must-eats.

Illustrated throughout with mouth-watering color photos and road maps, this indispensable guide is organized by region, then by state. Each entry captures the food in luscious detail and gives the lowdown on the café, roadside stand, or street cart where it’s served. When "bests" abound—hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, apple pie, doughnuts—the Sterns rank their offerings. Sidebars feature profiles of idiosyncratic creators, recipes, and local attractions."

Yum...

500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late: And the Very Best Places to Eat Them
by Jane Stern, Michael Stern
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pub. Date: June 2009
ISBN-13: 9780547059075
448pp
Pub. Date: June 2009

Available online at Barnes and Noble.

31 May 2009

The Food of a Younger Land

An interesting new book for your summer reading -- especially if your are planning some summer road trips-- has just come to my attention: The Food of a Younger Land : A portrait of American food - before the national highway system, before chain restaurants, and before frozen food, when the nation's food was seasonal, regional, and traditional - from the lost WPA files, by Mark Kurlansky. Reviewed in the Sunday Book Review of The New York Times, an excerpt:

"Like many archaeological finds, “The Food of a Younger Land” comes with a rich back story. In 1939, Katherine Kellock, the Federal Writers’ Project editor responsible for the travel guidebooks that succored many unemployed writers through the Great Depression (Saul Bellow, John Cheever and Richard Wright among them), hatched a new idea: a book, to be entitled “America Eats,” about “American cookery and the part it has played in the national life.” Writers fanned out across the republic to document — via field reports, essays, stories, poems, recipes and interviews — what academics have taken to calling “foodways.” Among the topics covered were New York soda-luncheonette slang, Georgia possum cookery, Minnesota lutefisk, geoduck clams in Washington State, Montana’s fried beaver tail, Colorado food superstitions (“You will receive mail from the direction in which your pie is pointing, when it is set down at your place at the table”), a Choctaw “funeral cry” feast and “a Los Angeles sandwich called a taco.” Throughout 1940 and 1941, raw copy flowed into Washington, D.C., where it was farmed out to rewriters — including Nelson Algren — for shaping into book form. Then came Pearl Harbor. The Federal Writers’ Project — “one of the noblest and most absurd undertakings ever attempted by any state,” as W. H. Auden described it — morphed into the Writers Unit of the War Services, and “America Eats” went down as a war casualty. All that remained of it was a stack of onionskin carbon copies “almost two feet high,” according to Kurlansky, that Kellock deposited in the Library of Congress."

The entire essay is worth reading in the Sunday Book Review.


The Food of a Younger Land : A portrait of American food - before the national highway system, before chain restaurants, and before frozen food, when the nation's food was seasonal, regional, and traditional - from the lost WPA files
by Mark Kurlansky
Hardcover
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Pub. Date: May 2009
ISBN-13: 9781594488658
416pp

Available online at Barnes and Noble.

20 May 2009

Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan

And the winner for The 2009 Best Cookbook of the Year, is: Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes, by Jennifer McLagan, recently announced at the The 2009 James Beard Foundation Awards Winners.

A synopsis from Barnes and Noble:

"An appealing exploration of fat in cooking — a component of food that’s newly fashionable — with recipes and culinary history.

Duck fat. Caul fat. Leaf lard. Bacon. Ghee. Suet. Schmaltz. Cracklings. Jennifer McLagan knows and loves culinary fat and you’ll remember that you do too once you get a taste of her lusty, food-positive writing and sophisticated comfort-food recipes. Dive into more than 100 sweet and savory recipes using butter, pork fat, poultry fat, and beef and lamb fats, including Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Fennel and Rosemary, Risotto Milanese, Duck Rillettes, Bone Marrow Crostini, and Choux Paste Beignets. Scores of sidebars on the cultural, historical, and scientific facets of culinary fats as well as thirty-six styled food photos make for a plump, juicy, satisfying package for food lovers.

The New York Times - Craig Seligman:

Eat fat! That's a message I can get behind. In fact, Jennifer McLagan's substantial and by no means unserious Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes makes the same argument Michael Pollan created a stir with earlier this year in his much talked-about In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto: that the craze for animal-fat substitutes has damaged our health. Fat, it turns out, is a lot like TV—nourishing as long as it's not your whole diet…None of which would matter if her recipes weren't brilliant. Most of them aren't for neophytes, but they reward the effort."

Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes
by Jennifer McLagan, Leigh Beisch (Photographer)
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Pub. Date: September 2008
ISBN-13: 9781580089357

Available online at Barnes and Noble.

13 May 2009

The 2009 James Beard Foundation Awards Winners





The 2009 James Beard Foundation Awards Winners were recently announced (always look forward to them).

From the Press Release:

Highlights from this year’s list of winners include:

Outstanding Restaurant: Jean Georges (Chef/Owner: Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Owner: Phil Suarez, New York, NY)

Outstanding Chef: Dan Barber (Blue Hill, New York, NY)

Rising Star Chef: Nate Appleman (A16, San Francisco, CA)

Best New Restaurant: Momofuku Ko (Chef/Owners: David Chang and Peter Serpico, New York, NY)

Cookbook of the Year: Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes (Author: Jennifer McLagan, Publisher: Ten Speed Press, Editor: Clancy Drake)

To view the entire list, visit The James Beard Foundation.

More on some of the winners later...

12 April 2009

Kefir

Kefir (pronunciation here), is a wonderful, tart, milk-based beverage loaded with beneficial probiotics. The low-fat and non-fat versions have less calories than the whole milk kind. It is now widely available in natural and organic markets and many supermarkets, as well.

From Wikipedia, a bit more:

"Kefir (alternately kefīrs, keefir, kephir, kewra, talai, mudu kekiya, milkkefir, búlgaros) is a fermented milk drink that originated in the Caucasus region. It is prepared by inoculating cow, goat, or sheep's milk with kefir grains...

...Kefir grains are a combination of bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars. This symbiotic matrix forms grains that resemble cauliflower. Today, kefir is becoming increasingly popular due to new research into its health benefits. Many different bacteria and yeasts are found in the kefir grains, which are a complex and highly variable community of micro-organisms.

Traditional kefir is fermented at ambient temperatures, generally overnight. Fermentation of the lactose yields a sour, carbonated, slightly alcoholic beverage, with a consistency similar to thin yogurt. Kefir fermented by small-scale dairies early in the 20th century achieved alcohol levels between 1 and 2 percent, but kefir made commercially with modern methods of production has less than 1% alcohol, possibly due to reduced fermentation time.

Variations that thrive in various other liquids exist. They may vary markedly from kefir in both appearance and microbial composition. Water kefir (or kefir d'acqua) is grown in water with sugar (sometimes with added dry fruit such as figs, and lemon juice) for a day or more at room temperature...

...While some drink kefir straight, many find it too sour on its own and prefer to add fruits, honey, maple syrup or other flavors or sweeteners. Frozen bananas, strawberries, blueberries or other fruits can be mixed with kefir in a blender to make a smoothie. Vanilla, agave nectar and other flavorings may also be added. In Poland Kefir is sold with different varieties of fruit and flavors already added, both in the organic/ecologic and non-organic varieties. It is a breakfast, lunch and dinner drink popular across all areas of the Russian Federation, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland (second largest producer after Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland (especially Russian and Estonian minorities), Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania where it is known as an affordable health drink. In Southern Slavic countries kefir is consumed anytime in the day, especially with zelnik, burek and banitsa."

12 March 2009

The Miracle Berry: Açaí

Photo: Andre Penner/Associated Press


Açaí. Eat or drink this berry and you will lose weight, clean your colon and your blood, rejuvenate your skin, and reverse aging. You name it. Acai does it. Who says? Oprah and Rachel Ray, two experts in health nutrition, I'm sure. But some doctors have supposedly made the same claims, based on tons of research and studies, I assume, which I have searched for, and for some reason can't find. I've contacted companies selling Açaí asking for any published studies. None responded.

Well, maybe the answer is there are no valid studies to date confirming any of the many miracle claims, except for the berries' high antioxidant properties.

This article in The New York Times, "Pressing Açaí for Answers", by Abby Ellin, explains further.

05 March 2009

Organic foods not necessarily safer

You are concerned about your diet, nutirtion, the quality of your groceries. You shop mostly at natural or organic markets, and still read the nutrition and ingredient information, and when satisfied, make your purchases. Sounds like you've made some sound and safe decisions in your food purchases. Besides usually laying out a few extra dollars for this peace of mind.

Think again: while the items purchased may be organic or natural, they are often processed in the same facilities that process pesticide-laden, fertilizer-rich, under-inspected goods. What?

"The plants in Texas and Georgia that were sending out contaminated peanut butter and ground peanut products had something else besides rodent infestation, mold and bird droppings. They also had federal organic certification."

Read the entire article, "It’s Organic, but Does That Mean It’s Safer? ", by Kim Severson and Andrew Martin, at The New York Times.

Should the retailers check the souces of what they sell, or the manufacturers of these "natural" and "organic" ingredients check their suppliers? Apparently though, at present, neither does.

18 February 2009

For your (digestive) consideration

Maybe you wonder a bit (or bit excessively) about the safety of food in this country and how gross and dangerous events in food production can occur. A recent Op-Ed article in The New York Times, The Maggots in Your Mushrooms, by E. J. Levy, should make us question even more what is going on, or not going on with oversight in the food industry:

"Canned mushrooms may have “over 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams of drained mushrooms and proportionate liquid” or “five or more maggots two millimeters or longer per 100 grams of drained mushrooms and proportionate liquid” or an “average of 75 mites” before provoking action by the F.D.A."

The entire article is worth reading at The New York Times.

01 February 2009

Peanut recall

You've heard about the peanut recall. 

At the store I work (Vitamin Shoppe), virtually everything with peanuts have been recalled and removed from sale. I was aghast to see at two local supermarkets, recalled products still on the shelves yesterday (Pathmark and Whole Foods).

See the list:

http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/peanutbutterrecall/index.cfm

15 January 2009

Fun and informative food sites

I've put together a list of fun and informative food sites. Food-related links for a little diversion...go to:

Foods Sites

08 January 2009

Fresh Start for a New Year?

Photo: Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times

Fresh, easy to say. But what's in your cupboard, and more importantly, how long has it been there? 

Stuff, dried herbs and spices do not age gracefully. Canned veggies might belong in your cabin in the mountains but not at home. And so on. This wonderful article by Mark Bitten, "Fresh Start for a New Year? Let’s Begin in the Kitchen", in The New York Times, could not say it better:

"...While you’re stocking up, you might clear out a bit of the detritus that’s cluttering your shelves. Some of these things take up more space than they’re worth, while others are so much better in their real forms that the difference is laughable. Sadly, some remain in common usage even among good cooks. My point here is not to criminalize their use, but to point out how easily and successfully we can substitute for them, in every case with better results..."

Go to The New York Times for the entire article, essential reading for the serious (and less serious) kitchen person.