What’s Going On?

3 Feb

The state of food production and flavor creation in the United States is pretty terrifying. When you look at coal tar used for caffeine and the antibiotic laced chickens we are basically poisoning ourselves constantly. Most the information I know about these aspects of the food industry make me want to run away, live in the country, grow my own vegetables and fruits, and raise my own chickens. But there is an issue with the utopian plan, apart from the fact that I have no idea how to grow food or raise it, the damage that all of pesticides and antibiotics have done to the ground could still be contaminating whatever you grow. So what are we supposed to eat?

It seems responsible to buy as much free-range organic food as possible because that should be healthier. The problem is that this is a solution for the wealthy. Probably the top 20% of income wage earners could afford to eat this way, so then it does not seem as logical. But when you look at the benefits of eating natural locally grown food, they should hopefully outweigh the ultimate health costs of eating predeceased foods.  Such as, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and so on.

Life style changes are in order in the United States. Without a serious over haul of the sedentary lifestyle we have adopted and a move towards less factory farming and more local farming we are going to entrench ourselves further in this unhealthy relationship we are now experiencing with food.

Interview with My Mom

30 Jan

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            When I was asked to interview my mom about hers and my relationship with food I thought I new what most of the answers would be. Which I did, but her response to the first question was entirely different from what I thought it would be.

Q: What did I hate eating when I was younger? How did you deal with that?

A: At first she responded that I really didn’t hate anything. Which I think is insane because I hated most things, but maybe I hid it better than I thought I did. After a bit of pondering and asking my dad if he could think of anything she finally responded,

“ Pork, broccoli, and eggs. You liked eggs as a baby but when you got older you started to hate them”

In terms of dealing with my dislikes, “I didn’t give you those things.”

Q: What did I love eating?

A: cheese, pasta, watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, filet mignon

Q: Did you cook different things before you were married than after?

A: Yes. I didn’t cook that much before, just stew and things that could last me for a long time. In Hawaii I could get bento boxes with really fresh fish, sticky, rice, and cabbage. After it was less fresh more frozen.     

Q: What is your favorite meal to make?

Cornish game hens. (She makes them for all holidays and special occasions)

Q: What were my table manners like as a kid?

A: Good. You ate really slowly because you have a tiny mouth. (No food throwing, save for when I had the chicken pox and then apparently I was not amused)

Q: What are your favorite food memories of me growing up?

A: (As I mentioned in my previous post) You under the dinning room table with the block of cheese. Slamming the refrigerator door saying “OPEN THIS!”

Q: Do you regret cooking or feeding me anything?

A: Too much fast food.

Q: Is there a special food that reminds you of me?

A: (Of course) cheese and hens.

Q: Did you cook for me or for yourself?

A: For you, yeah.

Q: What do you hope I’ll cook when I have my own family?

A: Good food. Like Chicken, good salad, and fresh fish. You make such good salads.

Q: If you could have any meal (the ultimate meal) what would it be?

A: Fresh mahi mahi, sticky rice, escargot, and a nice green salad.      

Q: Do you enjoy cooking, or do you do it because you have to?

A: I like to cook. I wish I had more time to do it. I would love to go to cooking school to learn how to cook well. I just hate going to the grocery store.

Cupcake Love in the Gourmet Ghetto

27 Jan

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 Pay attention. She’s talking about interesting things you should be listening. But look at the cupcakes just sitting there beneath the glass. Just out of reach. I was trying to lean back and see what all the flavors were inside of the glass case. Standing in front of this case felt like standing in front of the fine jewelry counter in a department store. The sparkling nuggets or cake and frosting were tempting me. All is could concentrate on was getting to buy a pistachio cupcake.

While I was attempting to concentrate on Pat Powell, the owner of Love At First Bite in Berkeley, she was explaining that in her cupcakery everything is made fresh. Pat employs college students and she enjoys making large and small batches of her cupcakes.

When we were given our mini cupcake samples I chose the pumpkin. It was a moist and nutty cake with sweet and tangy frosting. There was a slight spice on the finish. I was satisfied with my mini cupcake, but I needed one or more of those generously sized cupcakes.

I ordered my chocolate pistachio and the coconut cupcakes with coconut cake and toasted coconut, but since I was going to eat a whole myriad of other foods that day I could not try them until the next day. The chocolate and pistachio was by far my favorite. The salty pistachio flavor complimented the sweet and slightly bitter chocolate flavor of the cake.

This cupcakery is small, bright, and playful with a vintage feeling. The hard candies and small toys give this place a unique small town kind of ambiance. I understand why all the Cal Berkley girls make these cupcakes a day-to-day necessity. These cupcakes are special because Pat Powell makes naturally flavor cakes and frostings that make you feel like you can get your sugar fix without feeling as guilty.

Gallery

Gourmet Ghetto Berkeley

26 Jan

Recipe for Chopped Challenge: 7 Layer Dip

26 Jan

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Cook hamburger meat, drain fat, then add back into pan, cooked hamburger and taco   seasoning, following directions on seasoning package.  Set cooked meat aside in bowl to cool.

3.  Cook pork meat, drain fat, add back into pan, cooked pork. Then add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic and taco seasoning to pork.  Following directions on seasoning package. Set aside in bowl to cool.

4.  Start layering dip in baking dish.

5.  Place a thin layer of cooked hamburger meat on bottom on baking dish.

6.  Place over the meat a thin layer of refried beans.  Spread beans with back of tablespoon or spatula.

7.  Next place a thin layer of pork meat.

8.  Layer that with a thin layer of jalapeños.

9.  Stir yogurt well before placing it over jalapeños.

10.  Place a good layer of cheese.

11. Layer chopped onions.

12.  Start layering again from the beginning layer, with the hamburger meat.

13.  Layer with beans.

14. Layer of pork meat.

15. Layer of jalapeños.

16. Layer of yogurt.

17. Layer of cheese.

18. Layer with onions.

19.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

20.  Serve hot with chips.

 Tortilla Chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Lightly oil baking sheet.

3. Oil one side of six flour tortillas. Stack them oil side up.

4. Cut tortillas in half, then in quarters, then in eighths.

5. Evenly space tortillas pieces on baking sheet oil side up.

6. Bake for 8-12 minutes.

The Chopped Challenge: 7 Layer Dip and Tortilla Chips

26 Jan

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The kitchen is a mess. I wish I could cook the way they do on Top Chef and the Barefoot Contessa. For some reason when I cook by myself everything gets everywhere and I have no control over my limbs. This time, beef and pork on the floor and counter, yogurt still glopped on a spoon, open cans of beans and jalapeños, and a huge bag of cheese in a draw. This madness ensued for the sake of 7 layer dip, which was my mom’s great idea for what to make with jalapeños, yogurt, and garlic. Apparently, everyone loves the stuff, but I can’t stand mixing foods in that kind of haphazard way so I was not going to partake in the 7 layer festivities.

The problems began before any of the actually cooking. I don’t buy raw meat often and did not realize that putting meat in freezer would turn it into a rock. I can’t believe after 16 years of school I can still do such stupid things, so I began my challenge with my pork and beef as two large blocks of ice. At this point my roommate came in the kitchen to make lunch and ask, “Did you cook mush at home?” Making me painstakingly aware of my ineptness I responded with a quick “No. I can make pasta and grilled cheese, but not much else.”

I gave up on the beef and shaved it in two pans as I broke it down, but I ended up using a sharp knife to severe the pork into a manageably sized portion. I cooked them both with taco seasoning and garlic for the pork. Now it was time to open cans, and again, this is something I do not do very often. My lovely roommate opened one for me, and I felt a ridiculous sense of accomplishment when I opened the second one all by myself.

It was time for the layering to begin. As I started staking these ingredients I felt like an artist painting on her canvas, layering the colors to create a new experience for the viewer. I popped it in the oven and watched the cheese melt. I smelled pretty good, but there was no way I was eating it. After it finished I made tortilla chips to go with it. They were surprisingly satisfactory for just being tortillas with olive oil and salt. My roommates loved the dip, as evidenced by the fact that the entire 8” casserole dish was gone in a day and a half.

Japantown Field Trip

24 Jan

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