Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Winter Prep, Hunger Facts & an Easy Crumble Recipe

Well, it seems that Fall has decided to back off for awhile.  As I write here in Philly, it's going to be in the '70s for the next few days.  With lots of rain.  Like Spring showers!  I know - I shouldn't be fooled.  We'll be getting out the sweaters and the heavy sox - and wearing them - very soon.  It will be nice for the Trick or Treaters though and that's a good thing for our neighborhood - we get lots of kids going door to door, the old fashioned way.  I love South Philly.

Have you done any prepping for the cold weather?  It's always worthwhile to check all of your windows for proper insulation.  An awful lot of cold air can come in - and warm air can go out - from poorly insulated windows.  We have some windows that literally "lock up" wonderfully, insulated against cold and sound.  But then we have others that are not so efficient.  When I think this weather is going to finally be consistent we are going to be insulating those windows with old sox.  Sox? Yes - stuffed down into the space between windows, they do a great job of blocking cold air and when it's time to remover them in the Spring, you don't have to deal with that sticky insulation - which takes years to totally come off!  Just be sure to get a good layer stuffed down into any areas cold air can enter.  It's very effective and if you get them well situated, you won't even see them.

Also, remember to get yourself used to checking the "sun" forecast.  If you have south facing windows, and you know it is going to be a sunny day, raise those shades and blinds in the morning and let passive solar add some heat to your rooms.  Of course, it is important to close them up when the sun is gone.

On another note, I came across some sad and scary facts about a week ago.  In a piece by Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Mike Newall, I learned the definition of "deep poverty".  I also learned that this level of poverty effects more than 186,000 people in Philadelphia, 62,000 of whom are children.  I can't get my arms around the fact that in my city this is fact.    With that sort of poverty comes hunger and that speaks to me directly.  Two out of four families with children do not always have money for food!  These folks aren't necessarily homeless.  They may be working at minimum wage jobs as well.  The schools are identifying what is known as "Food Anxiety" in many children.  The anxiety that comes when you don't know when you are going to be able to eat again.  Imagine.  We talk a good game about children and nutrition and the effects of poor nutrition.  It seems to me we  need more action.  Be aware of any politician cutting food programs to children.  Speak up when you see those attempted cuts.  Help support the programs, like Philabundance, that are providing food for families and individuals.  And please, respond to those who demonize the poor with such statements as, "People on Food Stamps are always buying steak and lobster".  First of all, that's not true and secondly, it helps to create an atmosphere of disregard for those people who need a helping hand the most.  Those of us who love food:  growing it, cooking it, writing about it, reading about it, and eating it are the ones who need to respond - in whatever way each of us can - to insure that children, and adults, are not going hungry in this food happy city.

What are your thoughts on what each of us can do?  I have some ideas, but would like to hear from you all first.

Recipe:  Asian Pear Crumble for Two

Sometimes a big dessert is just too much to have hanging around.  We share with neighbors of course, but once in awhile a small, delicious dessert that is just enough for the two of us is the best way to go.  Avoiding waste is so important, as well.  Believe me, you won't have to worry about that with this delicious crumble.


One large Asian Pear, cored and chopped
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of good vanilla extract
A pinch of kosher salt
1/2 - 3/4  cup of granola (I am partial to all flavors of Bob's Red Mill granola; for this I used the blueberry/apple which was perfect with pears)
1/2 cup of water
2 teaspoons of unsalted butter, plus butter to coat the pan


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

Coat your baking pan generously with a teaspoon or so of butter - use a small pan or oven proof pot.  I used a five inch All Clad stainless steel pot; it is 3 inches deep.  You can use larger, it will just not be as "deep".

Toss the pear chunks, the cinnamon, the vanilla and salt together and pour into the greased pan
Top the mixture with the granola
Pour over the water
Dot with the two teaspoons of butter

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes. When you see bubbling it is done.
Let it sit for a couple of minutes before serving.
This is wonderful topped with good vanilla ice cream!


Treasure Real Food!