food movies
February 26, 2010, 11:48 pm
Filed under: chickens, food issues, meat, movies | Tags: ,

A while back there was a run of food documentaries and movies. I did not see them all, but saw a couple. My favorite and the one you should definitely make time to see is Our Daily Bread. This is a really fascinating tour through the various production systems for our food. It’s filmed in Europe and it is so cool! The machines they’ve created to do these jobs–amazing. The jobs people still do–amazing. It’s a pretty level headed movie. AND, get this, there is no dialogue. That’s right, it’s an arty movie, and it just moves from one product to the next. If you only see one food movie, make this the one. Get yourself in a relaxed frame of mind, sit and learn. Good stuff. Some of it frightening, but useful to know. It’s very interesting, hard to watch but totally worth it!

Here’s part where they’re harvesting olives.

Here’s a link to youtube where you can watch some other segments.

Fast Food Nation, on the other hand, is not a movie I can recommend. I saw it a bit after I saw the one above. Sigh. Mainstream, which was good right, but he blew it. Too overly dramatic. Too much on the gross out. He really didn’t need the whole demoralized illegal immigrant workforce in there. I’m sure it’s true, but it distracted from the other points of the food industry. In contrast, the workers in Our Daily Bread are shown doing honorable work- it’s just a job. It’s not the humiliating disgusting work that is proposed by Mr. Linklater.


fancy beans on toast
February 26, 2010, 10:10 pm
Filed under: asparagus, beans, recipe | Tags: ,

Beans on toast is another one of the bottom of the barrel dinners around here. That and some kind of quesadilla. I do saute an onion and spice up the Bush’s Vegetarian beans–but it’s a pretty lame dinner–though tasty enough. The doode tests me and asks for cheese in them too–which is highly un-traditional. But sometimes I oblige him.

It’ll be awhile before we can harvest our own crop of asparagus, but I  notice the asparagus is starting to hit the grocery store. This is a meal we like that’s sort of a fancy beans on toast. The lemon zest makes it. You could add a garlic clove in there too maybe.

White Bean and Asparagus Salad via epicurious.

  • 1 lb medium asparagus, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 (15- to 19-oz) cans white beans, rinsed and drained well (3 to 3 1/2 cups)
  • 4 slices country-style bread
  • 1 (1/2-lb) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cut asparagus on a diagonal into 1/8-inch-thick slices.

Bring oil, lemon zest, juice, salt, and pepper to a simmer in a 4-quart heavy saucepan, then stir in beans and asparagus. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, 10 minutes. While beans stand, toast bread. Meanwhile, remove enough cheese from piece with a vegetable peeler to measure about 1/2 cup shavings. Add shavings to beans along with parsley, then toss.

Serve bean salad with toasts–epicurious suggests rubbing toasts with garlic and salt, but that seems too fussy.

best veggie sausage
February 26, 2010, 1:54 am
Filed under: loafs and roasts | Tags: ,

At our house we all love the veggie sausage dinner. You can make them on a bun with sauerkraut and mustard. Or slice them up and fry with potatoes onions and peppers. Either way, they’re great! Sometimes you need a quick no-brainer dinner and this is one of them.

The two brands we like:

Field Roast Italian–these are great. 4.99 a pack though. Field Roast is from Seattle! They apparently make a lot of different products. We can only get three or four of them here at Whole Foods. They also have a blog and it’s pretty nice to see pictures of the factory and people at work making your food! Cool! It’s a grain meat product–seitan related–comes from wheat.

Tofurkey Beer Brats–nice standard product. Boasts–made with microbrewed Full Sail Ale and real tofu, not Hexane Extracted Soy Isolates! Whew, sounds scary, a substitute exists for meat substitute? Yikes!! This company is from Oregon.

back in business –chickens at work
February 25, 2010, 11:03 pm
Filed under: chickens, knuckles, spanky | Tags: , ,

Poor winter chickens. The molt surprised us all I think. Poor little chums. All of a sudden the feathers were falling out everywhere. Knuckles had it the worst. She shivered a lot and we broke down and got her a heat lamp for the super cold nights. Edwina, of course, was not affected, and she continued to give us an egg every day. But the rest went off the lay. And they looked glum. Their combs shriveled up. They had no feathers on their heads, it was not pretty. Gradually they came back. Spanky was first, then yesterday Bubbles laid a green egg for us. And today I saw this….

a girl needs her privacy!

Two girls at work! There’s little knuckles on the left in the box. We have two nest boxes for five birds, and usually they will wait to use the preferred box on the right. They will be angry and loud but they will wait. Sometimes though, you just can’t wait. And the box on the left comes into play. We had to change out the divider because there were some squabbles with a smaller one. This way each bird gets own private area and they can’t fight back and forth.

UPDATED: I gave the girls the afternoon to finish their work. And imagine my surprise when I found two eggs in each nest box! Everyone was indeed, back in business! Thanks girls. A four egg day. It’s been awhile.

farming, good for everyone.
February 25, 2010, 12:11 pm
Filed under: farm, food issues, gardening | Tags: ,

The doode is out of town on a business trip. He met up with some folks who’d be here a few months ago. They’ve from San Francisco and over the dinner menu, we had the inevitable conversation. What’s the “best” thing to get, not in terms of preference or taste–but what’s most local what’s most ethical what has the smallest carbon footprint. When did it get so hard to eat? We talked about growing your own, about farmer’s market. We talked about Whole Foods. Apparently if you live in San Fransisco you have the choice of many farmer’s markets and alas, Whole Foods is too corporate! Yes, they agreed, we are TOO precious. We know that.

How far does the farm bug go? Here’s two stories I’ve read recently on the subject. Here’s a program where farming is being used as a way to help drug addicts. How bucolic!

At dinner last night, the doode learned the latest from the California folks–some of them have banded together to buy 80 acres way outside the city. An abandoned farm. They’ll go out there and farm it. It’s so far out, that they’ll have to pack their own yurts!

This is also a thing according to the new. In this article the New York Times talks about groups of people in a different demographic, who gather and go out to farms (only organic sustainable ones) to help out. They learn some skills and connect with other like-minded folks. The farmer gets some free help, and city folk get to get their hands dirty. People are just interested in getting connected to their food i guess. Interesting times! I love all this interest in reviving the hand skills and farm skills of years past. It’s pretty cool. But hard work!

300.00 permits to grow food? Pittsburgh zoning needs work
February 24, 2010, 1:36 pm
Filed under: bees, chickens, pittsburgh | Tags: , , , ,

It’s timely that the city is dusting off the urban agriculture ordinances. There’s a fair amount of interest in growing and selling veggies grown on urban lots, and on having your little chicken coop or beehive in the backyard. But the zoning laws need to keep pace with the times. There was a hearing and local groups came out in force to suggest some necessary tweaking to the laws. Some pointed to the rather onerous fees that would be required–300.00?? Pretty steep tax seems to me! And the setback requirements were also a bit extreme.

Why should we care if we don’t live in the city? Well all the neighboring boroughs will be looking to the city for models. So it’s important to get it done right!

Apparently the groups will revise the ordinance and resubmit it next month. Good luck!

we like beer
February 24, 2010, 5:09 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

We do like the beer around here. We’ve got some hops stored up in the freezer in case the doode decides to make beer. We have two favorite beer stores locally–a combo drive through beer depot and garden center (what a cool combination–something for everyone!) And then there’s the special man–the local specialty beer distributor. The one who takes special orders, like for the Anchor Steam Christmas beer. Anyhoo, in my travels I saw this beer review and thought we should check it out! Doode might like to check out some of  these porters.