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  1. I was about to post Peeps milk too. Here is the link so you can see it in its full technicolor glory: http://www.prairiefarms.com/seasonal_favorites.aspx Prairie Farms markets itself as farmer owned, etc. etc., but their products look like pure processed food. Their line is full of low-fat and non-fat products--but a cup of their 1% fat strawberry milk has more calories in it than a cup of whole milk. I sent a note to them on Monday asking for a nutritional profile on the Peeps series, but haven't heard a peep from them yet--three days later.
  2. It's too late, but I think you could turn to mythology as a way to tie food to the larger culture. The story of Persephone and Ceres would work well.
  3. Maedl

    Dinner 2015 (Part 1)

    I made a fish tagine this evening for my winter-weary tongue and eyes: firm white fish marinated in a paste of cilantro and spices, than layered with onion, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and roasted peppers. I seasoned it all with ginger, turmeric, and saffron. I am not a happy fish eater, but this tagine might convert me!
  4. On a very snowy Saturday morning from Whole Foods, in the midst of total panic of the locals, trying to buy all the toilet paper so they were prepared for the storm: one pound of mussels lemons assorted heritage naval orange and grapefruit Tuscan kale kale blackberries Then on Saturday night, in the midst of a snow storm, I pretended I was in Sicily. I opened a bottle of Sicilian white wine, and made the mussels according to the recipe of what I ate in Trapani: with tons of garlic, lemon peel and juice, and parsley. It was good enough for me to remember the sound of waves on the beach and the sunlight dancing on the sea.
  5. I would start out with scraping the seeds out of half a vanilla bean--unless you want a strong flavor, in which case, I’d use the whole pod. But I like a trace of vanilla, not a heavy dose. And save the pod! Break it up and stick it in a small jar of sugar or salt, leave it for a month and you’ll have additional vanilla flavor.
  6. For an alcohol-free vanilla flavor, you can use vanilla bean--you don't have to use something that doesn't taste good. If the bean is too expensive, you can use it to flavor salt or sugar, which then substitutes for exteact.
  7. Alcohol evaporates when exposed to heat, so baking the cookies resulted in muting the flavor. The dip, I assume, was not cooked, so the alcohol flavor was more pronounced. That said, I believe the alcohol content in vanilla is something around 35%, so even if you used a teaspoon of extract, you didn't have all that much alcohol in the dip. And finally, even when alcohol is cooked, some can still remain--but in something like a cookie, I can't imagine that you'd notice it.
  8. I will never, ever again attempt to roast chestnuts. Some years ago, I had a craving for the roasted chestnuts I had eaten while a student in Munich, where I used to buy chestnuts from roasters set up on wintery streets. The vendor would put six or eight chestnuts in cone-shaped bags that could be eaten on the spot. The chestnuts tasted so good, and they warmed the hands--what could be better? Years later in DC, I noticed chestnuts at the local grocery on a November day. I happily bought them and had nostalgic thoughts of chestnuts hot from the oven dancing through my head. The next day, a Friday, after reading instructions in "Joy of Cooking," I made them. "Cut a small cross in each chestnut" the book said. So I got out a sharp knife and proceeded to cut a small cross. A very tiny cross. I placed the chestnuts on a baking tray, shoved them in the oven and proceeded with preparing a pot of soup until I heard an ominous explosion emanating from the oven. After the second explosion, I realized what was happening, so I grabbed the tray of chestnuts, put it on top of the stove, and ran to the other end of the kitchen. The explosions continued. By the time the cease-fire occurred, I had chestnut stalagtites hanging in the oven. Pieces of chestnut stuck to the ceiling and dusted the kitchen counter. The floor was covered with chestnut shards. The leaves of African violets on a nearby window sill clung to tiny chestnut bits like a burr to a dog. I devoted a good part of the weekend to cleaning up the kitchen, but months later, at Easter, I still was finding chestnut bits im the African violets. Funny, but my appetite for chestnuts diminished quite a bit after that and is now limited to the occasional cone-bag while walking down wintery streets in Munich.
  9. When you said cucina povera, I assumed you were looking specifically for Italian food. Here is a good read in that vein: http://italianfood.about.com/od/favoriterecipes/tp/Italian-Peasant-Foods-Cucina-Povera.htm I don't think you will find magazines that are devoted to this kind of food. You will have more luck with books that explore traditional foods, and you already have some recommendations that you can begin with. Another source is people! If you live in a community with refugees or immigrants, try asking them about food. Many would be delighted to talk about their traditional foodways.--and maybe you could even organize some cooking sessions, perhaps using a church kitchen. Early last summer, I participated in a cooking session with women from Afghanistan and Syria. We made stuffed grape leaves from grapes vines growing in our town and eggplant salad, and ended up with elderflower fritters, also fresh from local bushes. Then you have a chance to share a meal and learn even more. And do you know any foragers or have any foraging clubs in your region? Gathering wild food--free!--and learning how to make it not only edible but delicious--is a fine introduction to simple food. One more suggestion: Slow Food has an Ark of Taste in which it lists traditional, artisanally-produced food. This food is usually pricey today, but most of these foods come from humble roots.
  10. Marlena de Blasi has written several cookbooks highlighting the cooking of both northern and southern Italy in addition to her novels and memoirs. She delights in everything close to the land and everyday people, which may be exactly what you are looking for. Her writing is lush, and after reading a few lines, you crave an invitation to her table. My only warning about her recipe is that they are a bit heavy on salt, so you may want to reduce the amounts she recommends.
  11. Maedl


    I mince turmeric and ginger, saute it and add it to farro pudding. It is truly comfort food.
  12. The question that occurs to me is whether mustard oil and mustard gas are closely related. From the sound of the discussion, I suspect that they are. Apothecaries in Germany and Italy are great sources for arcane ingredients. I have bought bitter almonds in my local apothecary--after signing a book recording sales of controlled/dangerous substances. You can usually find baking ammonia there when it is out of season at grocery stores, and even herbs. I was having trouble finding fennel seed in the groceries, but was able to buy it at the apothecary.
  13. The Latin name for chickweed is Stellaria media--perhaps that might help you in eventually locating it. It is also called chickenwort, craches, winterweed or maruns--maybe it is called something different in your region.
  14. I do the same thing. I have an exceedingly simple set up--I file my recipes on the computer, then when I want to use one, cooy and paste the recipe into an email, which I read from my iPad on the kitchen counter. No bells, no whistles, just simple.
  15. Whenever I see “yummy” used in a recipe or to describe a food, I stop reading because I know I will not find the food appetizing. “Veggies” do not appeal to me, although I have met few vegetables that I do not like. “Sinful” and “sexy” don’t describe food--the writer must be talking about something else. And when I pause during a meal, what’s with waiters asking me if I”m still “working on it?” Since when has eating been considered work?
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