Category Archives: non sequitur food stories

Link Roundup and MOAR CHOCOLATE.

I absolutely decimated an enormous chocolate bunny this weekend. I know, Easter was a while ago.  Kind of like how I started making this list of links a while ago. But it’s still good.  Just like the bunny was still good. REALLY good. Basically, this was me:

This image is courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half, a blog that had our office on its knees in paroxysms of laughter for a good portion of the workday. Thanks, H+1/2, for destroying our productivity like a 7000% deadly shark-sloth.

Anyway, those links. Here’s some cool stuff we’ve been reading when not stuffing our faces with defenseless chocolate creatures.

Eat-onomics: The Ten Most Inspiring People in Sustainable Food [Fast Company]

Q&A with Chef Dan Barber: Can Organic Farming Feed The World? [TED Blog]

People Who Photograph Food and Post the Pictures Online [New York Times] Who are these freaks?

Jamie Oliver’s TED Wish: Teach Every Child About Food [TED]

20 Fascinating Lectures for Serious Foodies [Online Universities] Lots of our faves here, from Malcolm Gladwell to Dan Barber to Jennifer 8.  Lee to a ‘renegade lunch lady.’

How To Make Perfect Pork Crackling [Guardian] Finally, a decent reason to buy a hair dryer.

Q & A: Oscar Week: Food Inc. Director Robert Kenner [TIME] Yeah….this was from a long time ago.

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Weekly Link Roundup: The Food Porn Version

I’m up in the middle of the night with a serious head cold.  A friend suggested it might be haggisitis – which turns your internal organs to pulp and mixes them with oatmeal – but I’m pretty sure it’s more of a deepfriedmarsbar syndrome, where your sinuses and lungs get encased in a thick, viscous batter.  Either way, it’s really not a pretty picture.

Because I’ve self-medicated with an assortment of pharmaceuticals and can’t really read anything, I opened my Google Reader for the first time in about 6 months to look at all the pretty pictures.  Oooh, pretty pictures.  I will share some of them with you now.

First off, a great photo from a great article called Northeast China Branches Out In Flushing in the New York Times.

Wait a minute. Those are sticky-sweet caramel sugar strands stretching off chunks of deep-fried sweet potato? And that’s Chinese food? Holy crap. My world is rocking right now and it’s not just me overdosing on cold meds.  Perhaps my deep-frying obsession is coded deep within my DNA.  Irene Bean sent this article to me at about the exact moment the drool hit the keyboard upon reading it myself.  Go read about the cuisine of the Dongbei (literally ‘East North’) region and look at the slideshow: I promise you’ll do some serious drooling yourself.

Next, up: Boston Creme Pies from Design*Sponge

Ooooooooooooohmyyyygod.  Despite being proudly Boston born and bred, I’ve never really liked Boston creme pies.  But seeing this photo made me want to scoop up that cheeky little cake and smooosh it into my mouth in one bite.  Look at how mini it is!  It would totally fit.  Design*sponge is one of my favorite design blogs and their foodie/recipe series  ‘in the kitchen with’ has some of the most gorgeous food styling I’ve ever seen, along with some great recipes.  My camera whimpers a little in shame every time I look at the photos.  But my heart sings a bit with joy at the beauty of it all, so I do my best to temper the rising bile of inadequacy. I mean, really…how has a messy, half-eaten plate of radishes ever looked so good?

This spectacularly beautiful radish explosion is better described as a Spicy Heirloom Radish Salad and the recipe can be found  ‘In The Kitchen With’ Penny De Los Santos.

My last photo (because I reeeeeallly needed to go to bed like 3 hours ago, but I am not up of my own volition. Damn the batter in my head!) is from Slice: America’s Favorite Pizza Weblog, which is part of the jolly, fat, and friendly Serious Eats family.  If I manage to stay up to date with my Reader, it will probably be due to the daily dose of deliciousness  from Serious Eats.

Scrolling through the several hundred posts I missed over the past few months, my eyes starting to glaze over, my brain beginning to succumb to the dripping ooze of fry batter, I was shocked out of my stupor by the following photo:

Hey! I know that pizza! I know that pizza damn well, and glancing at this photo again has me tempted to book a flight to New Haven, Connecticut as we speak. Rather, as I type. And I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a huge fan of Connecticut. But seriously, Sally’s Apizza is some of the best pizza you’ll ever have.  It’s absolutely orgasmically good.  It’s also the home to one of my favorite food stories…

Assuming you have a generally adequate level of vision and sense of  spatial reasoning, I think you get an idea from the above photo how large the ‘Large’ pizza at Sally’s is.  16 slices!  It’s about the size of a small stovetop,  a mid-size bath mat, two normal ‘Large’ pizzas, or perhaps a very big catskin rug if your cat were one of those hilariously overweight cats whose pictures make me laugh on a regular basis.  Regardless, the Larges should more aptly be called Enormously Huges, and then the Large pizzas from every other pizza institution would not suffer the intense shame of comparison.

I went to Sally’s with four girlfriends – Rachel, Lex, Olivia, and Helen, all champion eaters and all wanting a different kind of pizza. I wanted to try the classic White Clam, Rachel swore by the Eggplant Parmesan, Lex refused to leave without the Mixed Hot Peppers No Mozz, and Helen preferred the Pepperoni and Onion. So of course, after waiting in line for almost two hours, we decided to get all four. In Large. For five girls. We had so much pizza, they had to bring over another table to put it on.  The guys at the table next to us started heckling – like straight-up shit talking – but we shut them up when we took down approximately 3.15 of them and had just enough to divide for leftovers the way we intended. It was one of the most satisfying eating experiences of my life – mostly because the pizza is unquestionably amazing and we waited two hours for it, but also seeing the grudging looks of respect in the eyes of those dudes.

Or maybe it was horror. I might have been too high on tomato sauce to know the difference.

Oh, and then Lex ordered another one to take home.  Seriously people, it’s that good.

Also…you’d think if I could ingest almost 16 slices of pizza, I’d be able to ingest enough Tylenol PM aka Lemsip Max All Night Cold & Flu Tablets to knock myself out  for the night, wouldn’t you?

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Random Food Porn, or, What I Accomplished in Sophomore Fall

As the spring semester starts up, I find my mind wandering back to all the things I did in the fall. Remember the fall semester? Walking up the slope without getting my face windburned off? Four months of classes and pouring money into this lovely Ivy League institution? Learning about things like neuroscience, psychology and the legal system, human development, and so on? Brutalizing your savings account and learning how to bake flourless chocolate torte, braise pork belly, poach eggs, make hollandaise sauce, butcher a deer, french ribs, and so on? Becoming a shameless fan of the blood-spatter-style plating of sauce (pictured below)? Do I remember all that? Not really. Good thing I took pictures, and we’ve got recipes coming in future posts.

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Read This Now: Introducing the Weekly Link Roundup

After spending an unprecendented 3+ weeks in each other’s company, Irene Bean and I have come up with some exciting plans and goals to make this FamilyStyles blog a more delicious, useful, educational, entertaining and altogether excellent place to spend your time.

I’m in the process of migrating the blog over to another server, so apologies for any missing pages, weird links, and other bad things caused by my lack of coding skills and demonstrable inability to follow step-by-step instructions.

More importantly – we want to start a weekly link roundup of good articles, essays, ideas, and generally interesting and thought-provoking links from around the interwebs. Because other people are smart and do good work and write excellent pieces and we think they’re worth reading.

Thus. What I read this morning in bed and yesterday when I should have been working:

1. Food writer Corby Kummer in The Atlantic on the value of school gardens, rebutting another Atlantic writer who decries schoolyeard gardens as cruel, elitist, oppressive, and plain out wrong –  without bothering to speak to any educators, parents, children, or community members who have experienced such a program. Corby, on the other hand, actually makes the effort.

2. A GOOD article on aquaponics and making urban farming sustainable. You know how we love Will Allen of Growing Power and his vertically integrated closed loop sustainable urban farm programs. This article talks more about urban agriculture and introduced me to a fantastic San Francisco-based company called Cityscape Farms seeking to develop local food economies and transform the urban landscape by creating urban greenhouses.  I truly think that it’s these types of thoughtful, sustainable yet also business-minded approaches that are going to change America’s food system for the better.

3. Another GOOD article – yeah, I like them – on how Better Meat Requires Better Butchers. So true and so needs to be said. We pay so much attention to the bucolic ideal of small farmers with excellent animal husbandry over factory-farmed meat. But if the pasture-grazed cow is still sent to an industrial slaughterhouse because there are no small licensed facilities available, we’re very likely still losing out in terms of food safety, animal welfare transportation efficiencies, environmental pollutants, and numerous other problems associated with these industrial systems. So we need more butchers. Better for the animals, better for the eaters, better for the planet.

Plus, butchers are badass. Looks like it’s time for a new hobby. Way to begin the fight, Irene.

4. Lastly, a final GOOD article (I know it’s been 3 articles from them, it’s just…they’re really…don’t make me say it…you get the picture…) on the Slow Money Alliance, which is trying to be the Slow Food of the financial world by promoting value-added investment into local and regional farming enterprises. Can you imagine the impact it would have if more and more people directed their money towards small business rather than big business, companies that prioritize local production over international destruction, people rather than profits? (Note, this isn’t just some money-draining, feel-good hippie operation – the goal is to provide a return on your investment while supporting these ideals).  I’m interested to research this further myself.

UPDATE: Another interesting article called Who Will Grow Your Food? Part 1: The Coming Demographic Crisis in Agriculture by the author of A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil.  What will happen as farmers grow old or can’t afford to keep their land if no one is being trained to replace them? How will this affect our food system and the way we eat?

So. Hope you enjoy the articles. I sometimes find it overwhelming  trying to ingest just a few valuable drops of the tidal wave of information crashing towards me every day online and it’s nice to have things carefully picked out for you every once in a while. These pieces make me start copying and pasting links into various emails with the heading ‘YOU HAVE TO READ THIS ARTICLE NOW’, so this is just my lazy way of putting them all in one place. We’re going to try to do this weekly at least, so keep your eyes open…

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Sailing An Orange Slice On A Punch Bowl Sea and Coffee Geekery

You know you’re about to have a bit of a bizarre experience when you’re asked if you’ve recently suffered from discharging ears. I suppose all sorts of odd precautions are necessary when you’re about to float across a punch bowl full of 4,000 liters of cocktail. WOOHOO! PUNCH IN YOUR FACE.

I got to visit the amazing Architectural Punch Bowl by Bompas & Parr last week and wrote it up for Wired UK here.

I also got to interview my favorite coffee maker and World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies and coffee roaster/ex-World Barista Champion Jim Hoffman for a piece on coffee geekery as well! So much cool sh*t going on here in London.

Some more photos from the Punch Bowl after the jump…

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Chocolate Cars, Pacman Pizza, and the Cutest Bento Boxes on the Planet.

I’ve put together a photo gallery called Play With Your Food for Wired UK! It features my favorite examples of geek gastronomy like a seven-patty-stack-of-heart-attack Whopper in honor of Windows 7, the most adorable Super Smash Brothers bento box, and an absolutely amazing stop-motion video at the end. It will BLOW. YOUR.MIND. You’ll have to go to the site to watch it, but sneak preview screenshot here:

Pizza eat ghost. Me eat pizza. Want pizza now…

Ok, while I go eat pizza, you go check out the gallery and leave a comment because you luuurrrve me and want Wired to keep me around. Mmm. Pizza.

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Two Excellent Articles On Improving American Food (and my relationship to childhood obesity)

Some seriously excellent articles I’ve just encountered:

1. Avoiding Factory Farms: An Eater’s Guide, by Nicolette Hahn Niman

2. Good Food Nation, by Peter Dizikes of the MIT News Office

Seriously, go read them. Or if you just want me to summarize, click after the jump for brief overviews, some additional thoughts, and an amusing childhood connection…

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Food Geeking It Out With Wired UK and Deep Fried Short Ribs

A little bit of excitement…I’m writing some food geek articles for Wired UK! I’m really thankful for such a cool opportunity to write about all things edible, techie, innovative, and just deliciously awesome for the website of one of the most kickass magazines in the biz .  My first article on space-age sous-vide cooking and perfect steaks published yesterday (go read it!) and I’ll be honest, I’m kinda geeked out about it.  Also a little freaked out about it.  It’s a big step from rambling about whatever I want here to writing for a really popular site with tons of readers and an editor.  Like I’m kind of embarassed to have forgotten to mention how to finish off the perfect steak, as pointed out by my astute and carnivorous friend Dan: ‘the best part of good steak is the char on the outside and there ain’t no char in the water jar, na’am sane?’

He’s poetic too.

As I told Dan and should have mentioned in the article, once you pull the steak out of the water oven, you slap it on a grill or in a pan on high heat and get a good sear. Mmmmmmmmmmm perfect steak. Writing the article made me want my own sous-vide machine, but since I can’t afford the one I referenced I might just have to make my own like the awesome one below from the author of the droolworthy food blog Inuyaki (and his Flickr photos here)

home sous vide machine

A hacked together machine like that made this:

sous vide short ribs

Forget finishing off your steak on the grill when you can DEEP FRY it. Umm…Deep Fried Short Ribs?, you ask?  Yup. Those beauties above were ‘cooked in a 135F/57.2C waterbath for 48 hours and then deep fried in 360F vegetable oil for a few minutes to crisp up the skin.’ Oh holy crap. Want steak now. Inuyaki, your food geek innovation is making me drool all over my keyboard.

Food + Geek  x  Creativity(Innovation) = YUM.

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Great Food Articles Written By Other People

I’m in a moment of consumption rather than production.  I have some cool Rambling Restaurant posts coming once I get ahold of some photos/get my act together, but more importantly, I’ve been busy reading a lot of amazing food articles that I want to share.

CHOW.com’s baker’s dozen of provocateurs, trendsetters, and rabblerousers in food. Butchers, brewers, Slow Food-ers, and more. These people rock.

Michelle Obama is going to cameo on Iron Chef America on Battle: White House Garden. Cristeta Comerford, the White House chef and Bobby Flay vs. Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse. I love her.

The other White House chef, Sam Kass, is also a public policy wonk helping to publicize good food and fight childhood obesity.  I love him too. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that he is kind of ridiculously attractive.

And lastly, Jonathan Safran Foer wrote a beautiful piece in the Food Issue of the New York Times Magazine, an excerpt from his book called Eating Animals. It’s  about food, family, history, memory, inconsistent vegetarianism, and ultimately, not eating animals.  In just a few pages it made me laugh and made me cry.

Go read about all these fantastic people doing amazing things.

 

 

 

 

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my favorite food reads, julia child’s life in france, and the ‘how not to cookbook’

i love reading food books. i love personal accounts and memoirs by famous chefs and food critics, and especially by ambitious, funny, and self-deprecating amateurs that just love food. i love food-related non-fiction like works on the history of salt or the changing role of sushi in america or how cooking made us human. i love books on sustainable eating and real food and what organic really means. and of course, i love cookbooks. i have a few cookbooks on my bedside table – not primarily to read the recipes, although i do sometimes and they make me very hungry – but because my favorite cookbooks are full of juicy anecdotes and back stories and useful tips like how to spit roast a salmon or build your own grill out of a trash can (okay, that’s a very specific cookbook).

to share some of these favorites, i’ve started a page of good food books including all these different categories, which you can find under ‘food reads’ on the side of the blog.  i was inspired to create a dedicated book page because of two recent book encounters i want to share: my life in france by julia child and the how not to cookbook project by aleksandra mir.

warning: there’s a lot of writing coming up, but you’re only going to click  if you like reading in the first place, right?

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