Tag Archives: michael pollan

Ridiculously Good Spiced Brownies, Served with Almonds and Some Thoughts on Good Eating

I’ve got an absolutely amazing brownie recipe for you. Dense, fudgy, moist, a resounding wallop of chocolate amidst an unexpected touch of spices and a subtle nudge of saltiness upon encountering a buried almond. Now, I’m fully aware that I am often given to hyperbole, but I’m not exaggerating when I say these brownies are some of the best I’ve ever eaten. Make them yourself and I bet you’ll feel the same.

It’s not because of my skill at baking, which can more accurately be described as the ability to read and generally follow instructions. This brownie is based on a great recipe from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from another great recipe from Baked in Brooklyn. Eat anything from these justly celebrated dessert creators and you’ll probably bust out the superlatives too. Plus, it’s got a lot of butter in it, and we all know the important kitchen equation: butter = awesome.

But the brownie got me thinking more about the food we eat and how it’s produced. If you just want to skip ahead to learn how to make these brownies yourself, scroll all the way down.  But first, some brownie pondering…

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Michael Pollan and Will Allen on Good Food at PopTech

Sometimes you get really lucky when you’re randomly screwing around online. Exciting things are happening all over the world and every so often you happen to be there at the perfect moment to observe them. And by ‘there’ I mean ‘a very large ocean away’ from the PopTech conference in Camden, Maine, a yearly event that brings together ‘world changing people, projects and ideas.’ But thanks to live streamed video, timely Twitter updates, and the Miracle of the Internet, on Saturday I was able to watch, in real-time from 3,000 miles away, the inspiring talks of two of my favorite sustainable and good eating visionaries: Michael Pollan and Will Allen.

I’m psyched I managed to catch part of both their talks live because the full videos don’t appear to be online. However, you can see a brief minute-and-a-half recap of several speeches on PopTech 2009: Saturday Highlights and read well-written, comprehensive overviews on the PopTech blog as well. If you’re interested in food and don’t know about either of these guys, start reading now…

Read about ‘Michael Pollan’s Gospel of Sustainable Food’. His talk was full of great quotes – like how a vegan in a Hummer uses less energy than a meat eater in a Prius and how our generation in America will be the first to have a shorter life expectancy than our parents. Below, he grins next to a double Quarter Pounder and the equivalent 26 ounces of oil needed to produce the burger.  This is right before he dips a finger into the viscous black liquid in the glasses, sticks it in his mouth..and then tells the shocked audience that it’s actually chocolate syrup.

michael pollan at poptech

Read about ‘Will Allen and the Urban Farming Revolution’

Will Allen at PopTech

And while I’m busy linking, read about the talk given by Marije Vogelzang – a Dutch designer who does edible art projects and installations. I like that she got vegetable-hating preschoolers to eat their greens by gnawing fun shapes into their vegetables using their teeth. Play + Food = Fun and Delicious.  And it’s given me some good ideas for Rambling Restaurant…

You can read about the rest of the America Reimagined conference and watch some more videos here. And the PopTech website has tons of other amazing videos, blog posts, useful links, profiles of fascinating people and projects and companies, and an inspiring social innovation fellows program.  Click around the site and you’ll almost get overwhelmed with all the interesting material. So go check it out – you don’t even need to be in the right place at the right time. You could be in your underwear in your closet in the middle of the night and still learn about world-changing ideas at PopTech – now that’s the Miracle of the Internet.

UPDATE:  Apparently the quote on the vegan in the Hummer is not statistically accurate. Pollan acknowledges and chooses to refocus on the general message of the environmental concerns against industrialized meat. It’s basically just a pithy soundbite anyway…but too bad cause it was a good one.

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826, food politics and renewing a love for cooking

One of the fantastic things about caring about food and food politics is the convergence of my desires to eat really really delicious food and for that food to be humanely and sustainably produced. As one of the audience members at 826 put it, you don’t really have to make a choice between hedonics and ethics, because for the most part, the most humanely raised cow makes the best tasting beef. Sure, there’s always exceptions, but the cow that lived a long life munching the grass that its stomach was evolved to digest is going to taste better than a cow eating ethanol waste (!) and getting pumped full of antibiotics. The organically raised, locally grown early girl tomato just trucked from the farm to the farmer’s market tastes a million times better than the vaguely reddish balloon-like item at the supermarket that’s been sitting on a truck for a week. It definitely makes it easier for me to fully support conscious eating, because it doesn’t mean restricting yourself. I’d way rather eat a buttery tart filled with organic strawberries than a nasty-ass sugar-free snack cake or Hostess Twinkie and I feel better about where it came from (btw, read Twinkie, Deconstructed for a fascinating yet also horrific account of all the chemicals that go into both twinkies and…rocket fuel!)

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826, food politics, and i have an intellectual crush on Michael Pollan.

after letting the ideas from the 826 food politics discussion marinate in my brain, i’ve decided to serve up some thoughts in bite-size morsels rather than one huge and  indigestible essay. sorry, the whole evening ended with a nod to bad food puns, i can’t help myself.  i’m doling out ladlefuls from the jumbled soup pot of topics and carving off idea slices from the humongous turducken of food politics thought in my brain (that’s a gross mental picture. i’ll stop now).

here’s some details about the evening and the panelists, thoughts about food culture and ecology and production systems, and a whole lot of michael pollan…

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826 valencia and an incredible food discussion. for now, food but no discussion.

i just got back from a fascinating and thought-provoking food science and politics discussion at 826 valencia. yeesh. i don’t even know where to start with all the incredible topics covered over the three hour talk and it’s almost 2am, so i’ll leave the heavy thinking for tomorrow. for now, i’ll post some photos of the incredible food served at the event. i didn’t even know until fifteen minutes before it started that they were serving food, and then it showed up on mission mission like a specially delivered message from the blogosphere to my stomach.  thanks interwebs, for saving my ass from eating dinner so i didn’t show up full when they’re serving stuff like this:

chanterelles

and this:

s6300105

ooh, you ask, what are those, mei? and i’m like, ummmm, you know,  some delicious mushroomy shit and some awesome creamy asparagusness bruschetta thingy. okay, i don’t know. but they were mighty tasty. luckily, the creator of most of the dishes, a chef named leif hedendal, not only knows how to cook but knows how to get all arts and craftsy:

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