Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jamie Oliver In W. Virginia

The first two episodes of his new program, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, aired on ABC last Friday night. He's come to the unhealthiest town in America, Huntington, W. Va., to see what he can do to get them to eat healthier so they will lose that terrible title. They got the title because of the town's high death rate.

He is focusing on school lunch programs, which are ghastly and not just in Huntington. One of my favorite parts of the show are when he goes to talk to the cooks at an elementary school. Here's this guy with an English accent and hair looking like he used a submersion blender to comb it and he's hoping to convince these women to prepare healthier meals for the kids. It's a good thing there weren't any knives around; if looks could have killed he would have been dead.

The kids were getting pizza for breakfast. Yikes. Also the school was throwing away tremendous amounts of this junk food. The kids only got flavored milk. That sure didn't sound like my elementary school. Kids can't learn if they don't get good nutrition.

He convinces the ladies to cook one meal from scratch; pretty simple marinated chicken parts and a salad. Kids didn't like it. There are times in the program where he cries real tears of frustration. By the way, he did this same type of thing in Great Britain to help improve kid's nutrition there and was quite successful.

Next he goes into an elementary school classroom with some vegetables; the kids can't identify them (not even a tomato or potato). Then he convinces a family to have a health evaluation at a local doctor's office. The teenage boy is borderline diabetic; sort of a wake up call for the parents. Jamie helps them shop for healthy foods, gives them some simple recipes and comes back in a week to see how they are doing. Most of the healthy food is still in the refrigerator.

He opens up Jamie's Kitchen in a storefront in downtown Hungtington where kids and adults can come to learn about food. The grossest part of the show happened here. He showed the kids a whole, raw chicken. Then he chopped off all the meat; legs, thighs, wings, and breast. He chopped up the remaining carcass and put it in a Cuisinart which turned it to mush. He added a bit of flour to make it less sticky and then cut out a round piece that when fried looked like a Chicken McNugget. He asked the kids which they preferred the meat of the chicken or the chicken McNugget. They chose the McNugget.

I was surprised that a major network would air a program like this on Friday night during prime time. Food is a politically loaded subject right now with the large conglomerates like Monsanto, Cargil and ADM under fire for stifling competition and genetically modifying seeds for basic foods like corn.

Despite corporate efforts, the slow food movement, organic foods, locavores and grass fed meats, are making it onto the front page and into TV network shows. Some may say that what we locavores are doing is not having an impact; I personally think they are wrong. Revolutions start small but they don't stay that way.

So, hug a locavore, buy organic fruits and vegetables at the farmer's market when they are in season and stay out of the center part of your grocery store. That's where all the harmful food lurks.

Jamie Oliver will be on this Friday night on your local ABC affiliate. Don't miss it; he might save your life. And he's kinda cute in a boyish way.
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dark Days Challenge Final Week

I hope I got that right. Even went back and read all the information about the Challenge so I wouldn't stop short of the final date.

Tried fennel for the first time. Kerry found it at the farmer's market. We usually shop separately because he's more into fruit than I am. I looked at the fennel and thought, what am I going to do with that.

I posed that question at my quilting bee; Mary Jane said she had been thinking about cooking fennel and had found a recipe in one of Ina Garten's cookbooks.
Ina oven roasted it with potatoes and asparagus. No asparagus so I just cut up some potatoes, the fennel, some leeks and green garlic. Sprinkled it with olive oil and roasted the whole thing at 425 F. for 25 minutes. Very tasty with no taste of licorice. Maybe enough garlic trumps licorice.

Meanwhile Kerry BBQed two small filet mignon from Coffee Pot Ranch. Made for a delicious meal and all local except the salt. We are going to have fennel again soon.
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dark Days Local Challenge Week 18

This was a crock pot day. Those are the days I love; once everything is in the pot, you don't have to think about dinner until you eat it.

Ingredients today included: lamb shoulder (new for us but a lot like lamb shank), carrots, potatoes, leek, green garlic, white wine and dried strawberries and blueberries. The latter gave it a wonderful sweetness. We put a large dollop of sour cream on the dish. The bread shown in the photo is from the book "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day." It really is that easy. I make 2-3 loaves a week.

But I really want to write about the health care package that passed the House of Representatives tonight. The vote gives me hope; something I have not had for a while. Yes, we can have compassion. That's the word for the year: compassion.

Go Obama!
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Odds And Ends For A Thursday

Now that Harry is heading back to Reno, they have decided to be best buddies. That's Harry's head resting on Harleen. Just moments before, they were growling and chasing each other. Lia, Harry's puppy raiser, is brings her CCI breeding dog, Darlan, to Sacramento for x-rays to see how many pups she is going to have. The ultrasound showed ten. With eight nipples, that could be a challenge for Lia and Darlan. This also gives you an idea of what the new carpet in my sewing studio looks like. Lia will come by here and pick Harry up on her way back to Reno.

Harry was released from the CCI advanced training program because he didn't like to be groomed. He is such a sweet dog. So now he's a Change of Career dog just like Harleen. I wonder if any of the dogs in their litter will go on to be CCI service dogs.


We got our annual water bill from the irrigation district today. Last year we paid $98 for a miner's inch (11 gallons per minute 24 hours a day from April to October). This bill was for $734. We were a bit shocked so Kerry called. The poor customer service people are in for quite a day. They have a new billing system which figured all the bills much higher than they should be. Our bill will be $110. Sending new bills out tomorrow. This is not our drinking water. We just use it for irrigation and to keep our ponds full.

Made pizza last night using one of the bread recipes from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day." It was delicious. Topped it with tomato sauce from last summer, organic spinach leaves (the green for St. Patrick's Day) from the farmers' market, mozzarella, Parmesan and salami. Having leftovers for dinner.

Now I just have to try making pasta. I have all the ingredients except courage. I know I can, I know I can....
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Memories Of Ireland With Grandpa Coakley

When I lived in Europe, my grandfather was the only member of my family to visit me. He had never flown so my parents decided to put him on a flight that was non-stop to Frankfurt where I would meet him. My dad flew to Chicago with him and put him on a Lufthansa flight. What my father didn't realize is that the flight to Frankfurt was canceled; Grandpa opted for a British Airways flight to London and then another flight to Frankfurt. That meant he had to change planes at one of the busiest airports in the world.

When I arrived at the Frankfurt Airport, the folks at Lufthansa told me they weren't quite sure where he was. Now my grandfather, being of Irish descent, had the gift of the gab. About 8 hours after he was supposed to arrive he came through the doors of customs with a blonde woman on his arm. I could tell that the two of them had had a few drinks on the flight from London. He hugged me and said, "Is this Germany?"

A few days later we flew to Dublin so he could set foot on the land his family came from. The flight was really bumpy over the channel; he didn't seem to notice. I was white-knuckled the whole way.

Once there we rented a tiny Fiat that supposedly fit four. It was a stick shift and I was driving on the other side of the road. That meant shifting with my left hand. One way streets were a real challenge. I was honked at a lot. We finally headed for Cork. That's the port his father had left from.

Grandpa was very disappointed that there were so many Coakleys in the phone book. Sort of like Peterson in Minneapolis. I think he imagined some grand reunion with the family where they would all tell stories of his father's departure to Boston.

The first morning at our bed and breakfast grandpa asked the "wee lass," as he called her, if he could have a bit of whiskey. I wanted to crawl under the table; the wee lass did not blink an eye. She returned with a small glass filled to the brim. He smiled at me, raised his glass and said, here's looking at you my dear grandchild. Then he would loudly burp. That request, toast and burp were repeated every morning. He lived to be nearly 90 so I guess it didn't hurt him.

About the third or fourth day out of Dublin, grandpa slammed the car door on the seat belt; we were never able to open that door. So he road in the back seat and the luggage was piled on the front passenger seat.

About mid-morning each day he'd announce that he had a wee bit of a thirst. We would find a pub where we would stay until lunch. He had a bunch of JFK half dollar pieces which he would spread out on the bar. We drank for free as long as those prized mementos lasted.

In Galway, we saw the movie "Love Story." Like so many other people in the theater, I cried and even sobbed at times. Grandpa held my hand and assured me everything would be okay.

He refused to go to the North; that was back when things were still pretty bad between the two parts of Ireland. After ten days in Ireland, I put him on a non-stop flight to Chicago where my dad was to meet him. I stayed at the airport long enough to see the plane taxi and lift off. I wasn't taking any chance with grandpa.

Good memories for this St. Patrick's Day. We are breaking with tradition tonight and having homemade pizza. The green part will be fresh spinach.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Whoops; Dark Days Challenge Week 17

Yes, I thought the challenge ended with week 16. Urbanhennery graciously pointed out that it lasts until the end of March. So, to continue....

These are some of the ingredients for Week 17. A bag of pea shoots (can be eaten raw or cooked) plus green garlic, leeks and spinach (not pictured) went into a stir fry which had local olive oil. Kerry barbecued a tri-tip using a method he saw on a Julia Child/Jaques Pepen cooking show.

Kerry always has trouble with overcooking the tri-tip because it's so thick. The cooking show had them start the meat at a high temperature (BBQ) until it was crusty on the outside. Then they put it in a 200 F. degree oven to let the inside cook slowly. This was a big improvement.

All of the veggies were local as was the tri-tip.
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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

New Kitchen Gadget

It's called a utensil pot clip; Julia and Mark had them. Instead of laying your spoon on the counter while you are cooking, just clip this little thing onto the pot and slide the spoon in the grips. They are rubberized so your spoon doesn't get hot.

The company that makes them is Home Presence. They have a web site. I don't remember how much I paid for it. I store mine right by the stove clipped to the vase that that holds my spoons. I love kitchen
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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Dark Days Challenge Week 16

This is the end of the challenge. I missed one week when we were away for Christmas.

Despite the fact that we are not a family of turnip, beet or parsnip eaters, we managed to find lots of other vegetables. Maybe next winter we will find joy in them.

Our last meal was another simple one. It really isn't that much work to eat this way. I brined the pork chops from Coffee Pot Ranch; Kerry barbecued them. Oven roasted Yukon gold potatoes with leeks, broccolini and a bit of olive oil completed the meal. I put some of my BBQ sauce on my pork chop and Kerry ate his naked. Everything in the meal was local, organic, sustainable and ethical. I snacked on broccolini dipped in my cole slaw dressing while I was cooking.

That reminds me, Michael Pollan has adapted his book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" for children. It's available on Amazon. My friend Ami is reading it to her nine-year-old son so he will understand why she reads labels. We can't start training them too early to understand the dangers of processed food.

I want to thank Laura at Urbanhennery for hosting this wonderful opportunity. I know I didn't have it as tough as some of you in the Midwest and east. Finding asparagus fit for a locavore in February is something you can only do in warmer climates.

I went through the refrigerator freezer his morning and discovered enough meals for the next three days: chili, spicy lamb stew and moussaka. I get a certain satisfaction out of finished leftovers; Kerry isn't quite sure. I hate to waste food, especially the kind of food we eat.

Now I'm going to have to write about something else besides food. Well, not everyday.
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Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Wedding Quilt and St. Louis

We spent a four-day weekend in St. Louis with Mark and Julia. I had not seen the wedding quilt I made them hung on a wall. All the photos I posted before were sections of it. It was quite a revelation for me to see it in this format. Part of the border is a technique I learned from Rami Kim; it's folded fabric with a bead. Mark and Julia picked the fabric and the pattern.

They live in this wonderful brick bungalow that was probably built back in the 1940s. I love the archway on the right in the picture. Homes from this era have those kinds of wonderful touches. Also off to the right you can see Kerry (beard) and my son, Mark. They spent a lot of time together because Kerry threw his back out on the flight to St. Louis. That made for a much more relaxing weekend with lots of time for them to discuss electronics. Julia and I shopped and went to an orchid show at the Botanical Gardens. I really like St. Louis.

We are home; Kerry's back is recovering thanks to Julia finding a chiropractor in St. Louis. I had my knee shots today and a cut and color. It was a whole body maintenance day. We are both very tired. Hopefully we can catch up over the weekend.

Saturday is snow day for CCI dogs up in Truckee. Harleen loves this event. Hopefully we will see her pregnant buddy, Darlan.
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