Thursday, October 20, 2011

Today it's Just for a Laugh! Add Your Funny Food Law!

Goodies from the Tuesday Passyunk Farmers' Market
Happy Thursday!

I couldn't resist sharing this from James Norton, posted on CHOW:

Oughta Be a Law:  10 Crimes Against Food
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy from Vermont is planning to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to mislabel products as containing maple syrup.  Great  idea - it's a regional product with a rich heritage and it deserves protection.  James came up with 10 more things that should be "protected" by federal law.

Bratwurst  - Ever had a phoned - in Brat?  (hello, Hillshire Farm???).  A snappy exterior and an interior spiced with conviction are musts. 

Bagels - Gotta be denser than Wonder Bread; gotta have an actual skin.  There goes 90 percent of the bagels from flyover country, but tough turkey.  You can relabel them as flotation devices.

Cappuccino - If it's cherry flavored, it isn't cappuccino. 

Craft Beer - Should involve some actual craft at some point; a vortex bottle neck and/or team of Clydesdales and/or color changing cold mountains do NOT qualify.

Gourmet Cupcakes - If you are going to charge more than $4, it better kill. Some sort of extensive licensing program or electroshock based system of retraining should be instituted.

Margaritas - Not blended with ice into a slushie for adults, not choked with artificial sour mix.  Rather, made, well, from tequila and a bit of citrus and lime juice.

Chocolate Chip Cookies - If it makes you sad, instead of happy, it is not really a chocolate chip cookie.  Bad cookies, the kind served at fast food joints must be labeled, "chocolate shame cookies".

Cherry Pie - If the filling's been poured from a five gallon bucket, the pie must be either relabeled as "Artificially Flavored Corn Syrup Pie" or destroyed.

Calzones - Should not be miserably heavy; should be deliciously heavy.  Anyone on the East Coast can nail down the terms on this.

Martinis - Gin and vermouth - some actual measures of vermouth, not just "waving" the bottle at the shaker.  Vodka is an acceptable substitute for the gin, but only barely. Nothing else can be called a martini, or include the suffix, " - tini".  Chocolate syrup laced Chocotini?  That's not a martini - that's five years of medium security prison in Idaho.

Of course, we've already come up with a number of "laws" to add to this list! 

1.  Heavily fine fake restaurants that sell themselves as "authentic" ethnic food, but actually are just re-heating frozen, highly salted, americanized stuff at high prices. Includes, Olive Garden and P.J. Chang's - both would be hysterically funny if people didn't actually believe that they were eating Italian or Asian!!

2.  Forbid the use of terms made up by chain restaurants - i.e. "Cuccina Casuale".  Listen to the pronunciation next time the commercial is on TV.

3.  Stop calling Deep Dish Pizza, Pizza - it's a nice casserole;  but it's not pizza, sorry, it's not.  A Sicilian would kill you for calling it pizza.  That would be an appropriate fine.

What are some of the "laws" you would enact?

Keep in Touch and Keep it Local, Seasonal, and Kind to the Environment!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Home made Digestivo! Great Books! One Pan Chocolate Cake!

Berry Digestivo


After a great meal there is really nothing like a nice, tasty digestivo - you know a bit of strong but tasty alcohol that helps all that great food to break down and digest - or else at least makes us feel like it's helping!  This is a simple after dinner drink that you can keep in your 'fridge for some time.  It's delicious - it actually gets better with age.  It's from David Tannis book, "Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys".  Just put a cup of berries that you like (they can be frozen if you froze them fresh but you'll need to let them defrost and do a first strain) in a bowl, sprinkle the berries with 2 tablespoons sugar and crush the berries with your hands. I used raspberries and blueberries.  Add 2 cups of vodka or grappa.  I used vodka so far but making this with grappa would make a lovely gift.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate it for a few hours, or in my case, a couple of days. I strained the mixture into a cute bottle, found a cork and it lives on the top shelf of our 'fridge.  We are going to need more soon.  Tannis does not strain out the berries; my thought was that it would last longer - so I did a longer steeping time.  It's pretty AND delicious!


Michael Pollan's useful, funny, and sometimes profound little book, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual (2009) is coming out this month in a second edition with illustrations by Maira Kalman.  The new edition will include lots of new "rules" from Slow Food members.  I am going to be sharing some of the original 64 rules on Facebook for the rest of the month in honor of the new release. My favorite rule from the original - no big surprise probably - is Rule 19:  If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.

Marc Vetri, owner of Vetri, Osteria, and Amis) and one of the best chef in Philadelphia in my opinion,  has a new cookbook coming out at the end of October.  The book is called Rustic Italian Food.  Marc has long dazzled those of us who adore authentic Italian food.  He is a serious student and now a teacher of the italian food that Italians love to cook and eat.  There is a nice piece about Marc, the new book, and some great pasta recipes in the November 2011 Food and Wine.


This cake, from Corbin Evans of New Orleans (formerly of Philadelphia) is the easiest, most moist and yummy chocolate cake and it takes just a few minutes to make and you dirty one pan - the pan the cake bakes in - seriously, how great is that?

Three Hole Cake


1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder  (the best you can find)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use Canola oil)
1 cup of water
Confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease & flour a 9 inch square baking pan
Combine the flour, baking soda, sugar, cocoa and salt right in the baking pan
Stir the mixture gently
Make 3 holes in the dry mixture
Pour the vinegar in one hole; pour the vanilla in another hole; and pour the oil in the 3rd hole.
Pour the water all over the top of the mixture
Stir, gently, for about 1 minute and 1/2  - some lumps are OK

Bake for 30 minutes - let cool for a bit and sprinkle with confectioners sugar if desired.

Easy as can be and delicious - especially when topped with a good vanilla ice cream.  It really is all about the cocoa powder.


Keep in Touch and Keep it Local, Seasonal, and Kind to the Environment!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stretch your organic shopping dollar! Home made cleaning solution. Make some herbed salt!

Fall is definitely upon us now - it seemed to take it's time, didn't it? 

Thanks to all who got back to me with ideas, suggestions, and tips for the Blog.  Your time and input was deeply appreciated.

Food News

Walking around at one of our great Farmers' Market the other day, I was asked about going "all organic" - an expensive practice for many of us.  So I did some research.  I was trying to find out what products we should seek out with the organic label and what products we should be looking for that are considered "clean' - the least contaminated.

The Environmental Working Group has put together two lists:  the 12 most pesticide laden conventionally grown fruits and veggies AND  a list of the 15 products that are lowest in pesticide residue.  So, as they say, be guided as you shop.  By the way, these guidelines pertain most strongly to any of the products listed that are sold in supermarkets, or any place the food industry is the main supplier of stock.

Dirty Dozen (buy these products "organic"):  apples; celery; strawberries; peaches; spinach; imported nectarines; imported grapes; sweet bell peppers; potatoes; domestic blueberries; lettuce; and kale and collard greens.

Note:  if you are buying any of the above products from a local farmer or purveyor, you may be getting "organic" - but you may not be.  That said, not "organic" does NOT necessarily mean "dirty".  Get to know the folks you are buying your food from!  It's always a good idea to ask.

Clean 15 (not contaminated):   onions; sweet corn; pineapples; avocado; asparagus; sweet peas; mangoes; eggplant; domestic cantaloupe; kiwifruit; cabbage; watermelon; sweet potatoes; grapefruit; and mushrooms.

Again, it takes a little effort and it may require asking some questions, but it will be worth it!

Making Your Own

Household cleaning products have come a long way - the choices seem endless!  Some of us have been trying to buy products for cleaning our homes that fit into our green sensibilities.  For example, I am totally in love with my Method Cucumber scented All Purpose Cleaner.  But the stuff is expensive!  I recently came across a "recipe" for an all purpose cleaner, which we made and used and it works!!  It's especially effective on glass table tops, counters and windows. In our home, our glass storm door is permanently tatooed with wet nose marks, so we were going through the Windex pretty regularly.

Homemade All Purpose Cleaner (David Quilty, New York Times, October 13th)

Fill a spray bottle two thirds full of water and one third full of white distilled vinegar.  You can cut the aroma of the vinegar (which we love by the way) by adding a few drops of an essential oil to the mixture.  The vinegar aroma dissipates pretty quickly following use.  This cleaner costs about $4.00 a gallon - or about 25 cents for a bottle of cleaner. Commercial cleaners average $3.00 to $5.00 a bottle.  You can't beat that for saving!  Try it! I think you will like it!


Many of us have lots of herbs that we are currently drying and freezing and our rosemary, thyme and related plants are really at their peak.  Why not make some Herbed Salts?  They will make a great addition to your Fall and Holiday cooking.  Here's one that we made recently:

Spicy Herb Salt

You'll need:
2 cups of herbs - we used 1 1/2 cups of rosemary leaves and 1/2 cup of thyme leaves
2 thinly sliced garlic cloves
1/2 cup of good, coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes

In your food processor or blender pulse the herbs with the garlic until well chopped.  Add the 1/2 cup of salt and pulse some more. Add the red pepper flakes and pulse to blend again.

Spread the mixture out on a large baking sheet and let it stand, stir it once in awhile, for about two days - until it is really nice and dry.  Transfer the mixture to a jar with a nice tight lid.

The options are up to you and depend on what you will enjoy and use.  The important part of the process is to fully dry the mixture.  When it is stored in a tightly lidded jar it MUST be dry or you will lose it to mold really quickly.

Herb Salt also makes a very nice Host gift.

Keep in Touch and Keep it Local, Seasonal, and Kind to the Environment!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The New PhillyFoodist!

Franklin Square Fountain
Hello Everyone! Welcome to the new Philly  Foodist!

Yes, I have been away for what seems like forever, but I have been making really good use of the time!  I have been working towards making some significant changes to the accessibility of the blog for everyone,  as well as introducing a wide range of regularly occuring topics, ideas, recipes, and reviews.  My goal is for this blog to be a great resource for all of us. I really want this to be a give and take vehicle for the many fascinating and real life issues, and topics and challenges that have been brought up to me over these past months of learning and asking.  The important thing is that this blog be interactive - we have so much to learn from each other and we can have some fun doing it!

The Floating Content of the Philly Foodist:  No - not everything will appear in every post!  However the content of the blog will focus on the following content.  From time to time, whole posts will concentrate on one topic - it just depends on what folks bring to me, what I am seeing "out there", and what seems worthwhile. 

Food News/Opinions - What's interesting?  What's being debated?  What's being recalled?

What's at the Markets? - What should we be looking for if we want to eat seasonally?  What are those items that make a short appearance and we're sorry when we miss them?  What does "local" actually mean?  How do we balance between local and "not too far away"?

Weekend Shopping and Cooking for the Week - So many folks I talked to as I gathered information were torn by wanting to eat better, more natural, non-processed food; many wanted to stop their "pick it up or call it in" eating habits,  but many were stymied as they tried to figure out how to cook fresh and seasonal on a regular basis at home.  We'll discuss planning a week - or a half week - menu; we'll talk about "Playing with your left overs" - it's fun, really!  We'll talk about freezing lunches ahead of time.  We'll hopefully  provide some useful techniques that I have been using for a number of years.

Events - What's happening on the city Foodie and Green scene?  What's opening?  What's closing?  What's changing?  What events are being held in the upcoming weekend/week? 

"Making your Own" - A recent article in the NY Times magazine special "food" issue stated that we buy so many condiments that are better - taste wise and health wise - and less expensive,  when we make them ourselves.  Can we do it?  How do we maintain them?  What makes sense?

Recipe Exchange - For me this has the possibility to be the most fun - and the most useful for all of us.  I'll post my favorites; but to make it work, we'll need yours too!

Garden and Green Tips - So many of us are gettting into gardening - big plot, small plot, pots only, community gardens, etc.  What works best?  Can we grow edibles in pots?  Where are the good staff and good deals re: planning and purchasing for our gardens?  And, how can we live more "green" in our urban settings?  How can we better manage our energy use?  Can a composter work for a city dweller?  Are recycling points for real?  These and loads of other topics will be included in our gardening and green tips sections.

Do it Yourself Tips - I will promise to include the best DIY tips and projects that I come across and I hope that you will share yours!

Book, Blog and Site Reviews - There are so many great resources out there in the electronic and the print media; I will share the ones I believe are worth checking out AND those that seem to be missing the point and/or providing less than optimal information.  And we will always have a Cookbook to talk about - I have a serious cookbook habit!!

Occasional Topics - these will be "once in awhile" postings that are designed to get you contributing to the blog.  Asking you for your favorites, for example,  or asking what three things would be your "Desert Island Foods", that sort of thing.

City Stories - Once in awhile I won't be able to resist throwing in a local slant that highlights why living in Philadelphia is a pleasure for anyone who wants to live in our real, diverse, food friendly, liveable urban setting.

I am looking foreward to hearing from you!  It's good to be back and to be able to start applying all of the great input and information that I have been gathering.  Let me know what you think. Join me!