Some Quotes and Advice About Food that I Like

Donald Link, restaurateur ( Cochon, Cochon Butcher, Herbsaint Restaurant ) and cookbook author,  New Orleans, Louisiana –

Cooking and eating are life, don’t waste it with bad restaurants and junk food. Enjoy food. When I grew up as a kid in Louisiana, everything revolved around food and family. A lot of time now, it’s something people want to get out of the way so they can do something else. Some of the best monents I’ve had with my daughter have been hanging out by the kitchen counter while filling raviolis and talking. It’s hard to talk like that when the TV is on.

Lidia Bastianich, restaurateur (Felidia, Del Posto, Esca and Becco, Lidia’s Pittsburgh and Lidia’s Kansas City  ) and cookbook author, NYC –

”  There’s a philosophy of cooking that I was raised on: use as much of your ingredients as you can. Everybody wants a chicken breast, what happens to the rest of the chicken ? Use it. “

Gordon Ramsey, entrepreneur and restaurateur ( too many to mention ), cookbook author, and television personality –

” There should be stringent laws, licensing laws in England, to make sure that produce is only used in season and season only.  I don’t want to see asparagus in the middle of December. I don’t want to see strawberries from Kenya in the middle of March. I want to see it homegrown.  Chefs should be fined if they don’t have ingredients in season on their menu.”

How Big is Your Food Print ?

For those of us who are passionate about food, how we eat and what we eat is a topic of constant debate.  In fact, the politics of food is beginning to overwhelm all other types of food information. From organic farming practices to sustainable harvests, local;ly-grown food, the farm-to-table connection, free-range animals, rBGH free dairy products, school lunch programs, land-use practices, etc.,  all manner of vegetables, meats, poultry, dairy and farming practices have come under the microscope of discussion.

And the concerns can seem overwhelming.  But the issues don’t just end with the food itself. Add to the conversation topics about food packaging waste and the contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change that the production, processing, packaging, shipping, and storage of food generates. With som many voices wanting to be heard and so many issues to consider, the need to think, act and be better and do better by our land and our planet seems to beat to a louder, faster, more incessant drum each day.

So….what is the next flashpoint ?  By now must of us have heard about the notion of our individual Carbon Footprint ( how large or gently we tread on the earth ) but how many know about the Cornell University study called the Food Print ?  I just recently learned of this study, and it  is another cog in the wheel of ’cause and effect’ awareness.

The study looks at the issue of food production vis a vie land-use and food yield per acre. The question raised is this: is it better to grow vegetables or raise livestock for meat on an acre of land and how many people can that production feed ? For years debates have raged out West between farmers and cattlemen as to makes better use of the land for food production, etc. and who causes  the most damage to the land.  ( To anyone who wants to read about the greatest man-made land disaster in our country (prior to the ongoing land and water BP Gulf oil disaster) I suggest they read the riveting book: The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan. )

But I digress. The Cornell University study addressed the amount of land that it takes to feed an individual in a given year by specifically looking at various diets in New York and evaluating land-use based only on products grow within the state.

I encourage readers to follow the link below to read the full study. But in a nutshell, this is what their research discovered.  Someone who follows the low fat vegetarian diet needs less that a half acre of land per year to produce all the food they need. The one on the opposite end of the scale is the high fat, high meat, diet and in this case, each person needs 2.11 acres to produce their food.

But a diet that adds just a little bit of meat is still more efficient than the vegetarian one because of the type of land it uses, not only the acreage.

Fruits, veggies and grains need high quality crop land to grow, Meat and dairy products come from animals that can be supported on lower quality land which is also more available than the high quality land. In other words, although a vegetarian diet uses less land overall, it uses more high quality land than a diet with just a bit of meat added, making the meat added diet more efficient when all the variables are considered.

Wow.  To read the full report on the Cornell University click here: http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Oct07/diets.ag.footprint.sl.html

Lip-Smackin’ Barbecue Sauce

I admit it – I love good sauce. Sauce of all kinds, made from scratch and not from a bottle or packet.

But in the sweltering heat of summer there is only one sauce – barbecue sauce. You know the kind ….thick, dark, sultry, sweet-hot, smoky, lip-smacking, and finger-lickin’ delicious.  For me, tasty barbecue sauce is inseparable from properly cooked meat.

This year I committed to making my own barbecue sauce because commercial products are full of high fructose corn syrup and are boringly flavorless. Phooey on that. Now there’s no turning back and I am happy for that.

I experimented with quite a few recipes from high-profile grill-meisters before settling on the Branding Iron Barbecue Sauce recipe in one of my most treasured cookbooks: The Southwestern Grill ( Harvard Common Press, 2000 ) by the late, great author Michael McLaughlin.

Michael’s recipe has the flavor and texture that I had in mind, and like all passionate cooks, I fiddled with the recipe. I ramped up the heat a bit and made a few adjustments for personal taste such as eliminating the store-bought salsa and substituted Mexican salsa de chile fresco instead. I also added more crushed tomatoes to replace the tomato juice as we like it thick.  And we like the texture of the sauce as it is so I don’t puree the batch when finished.

Bob and I had the priviledge of meeting Michael several times and sharing some good barbecue with him, so I like to think of him as my ‘kitchen angel’, peering over my shoulder every time I fuss over his recipe and grinning with approval.

Branding Iron Barbeque Sauce, My Way

makes about 7 cups

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large, fresh jalapeno, stemmed and minced
  • 2  cans crushed tomatoes ( one 28 oz can and one 14 oz can )
  • 1 small can ( 7¾ oz )  El Pato Mexican  salsa de chile fresco or salsa de jalapeno (  both are smooth textured, thin, zippy tomato-based sauces and not to be confused with bottled ‘hot sauce’ )
  • 1 cup  tomato ketchup ( Heinz-brand contains no high frutose corn syrup )
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup canned chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 5 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke seasoning

1. In a heavy nonreactive saucepan warm the olive oil over low heat. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, salsa de chile fresco or salsa de jalapeno, ketchup, wine, chipotles, molasses, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and liquid smoke. Bring to a simmer then partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.

2. Cool to room temperature.  Puree in a food processor for a smooth sauce.

3. Use immediately or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months.

Photo courtesy of the Calgary Public Library Food Blog
http://blog.calgarypubliclibrary.com/blogs/food