Students from a business-statistics class…

Students from a business-statistics class at Seattle University conclude farmers’ markets are a better deal than supermarkets. I have a feeling that's not true in my part of Manhattan, but maybe I should try out a little experiment and see. There are four supermarkets within walking distance of the Union Square Greenmarket. It wouldn't be hard to do some sleuthing.

The USDA is considering a…

The USDA is considering a list of 38 nonorganic ingredients that will be permitted in organic foods. "The list includes 19 food colorings, two starches, casings for sausages and hot dogs, fish oil, chipotle chili pepper, gelatin and a host of obscure ingredients (one, for instance, is a 'bulking agent' and sweetener with the tongue-twisting name of fructooligosaccharides)." I don't understand how this is even an issue. You either grow it by the rules, or it's not organic. Or is this some Orwellian thing, Organic is Nonorganic?

Showcase the surprisingly versatile strawberry…

Showcase the surprisingly versatile strawberry in a pasta dish. This is a recipe for Sfoglia’s Spaghetti with Strawberries, a savory meal made with the berry. It sounds good, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around any savory strawberry concoction.

Whenever I take a pig,…

Whenever I take a pig, lamb, or cow to butcher or sale at the sale barn I am supposed to pay a tax that goes to fund one of the industry “check-off” programs. The author is referring to the National Pork Board and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the folks that tell you pork is the other white meat and beef is what's for dinner. "I don’t believe that farmers like myself should be compelled by the government to pay for advertising an industry that goes against our principles and basic beliefs about farming. I don’t want every sale of an animal from my farm to go toward promoting the very factory farming system that I am trying to be an alternative to." [via The Ethicurian]

At Per Se, the importance…

At Per Se, the importance of staff meal takes on an almost religious intensity. "The fascination was simply in seeing how ingredients were alchemized, how that same English cucumber, vacuumed, compressed and barely recognizable in a Sunday-night salad, became the dice in a fine, simple yogurt sauce Monday afternoon for a North African family meal of lamb and falafel." I loved staff meal when I worked in a restaurant. We were always trying to one-up each other with what we could come up with based on left-overs and what we could use. Stuff like fish was off-limits because of its cost, so it forced everyone to be creative, but also experimental.

Coffee troubles

It's getting hot out, and you know what that means? Time to order iced coffee drinks from the local barista. Sadly though, the state of coffee ordering has gotten so complex for me that the addition of "iced" seems to throw my whole order into doubt. I switched to decaf ages ago. I used to order soy milk, now I usually get cow's milk, but never skim. And I mostly order small drinks, though sometimes medium. And I never know in what order to place all the different variables. Today I tried for "small decaf iced latte" and when the women said something about milk, I assumed she asked if I wanted whole milk, so I said yes. Two seconds later, I was served an iced coffee.

"Oh, sorry. I wanted a latte," I said, "An decaf latte."

It seemed to be corrected and one women went to make it while the other began to ring me up.

"Iced medium latte," she said.

Apparently at this coffee shop, latte = coffee and decaf = medium. Or maybe I was just mumbly? I'm not anymore, now I'm all ZIPPY! From what seems to be a medium NOT DECAF iced latte!!

Dinner party anxiety

People don’t want to be associated with the wrong kind of olive oil, points out the New York Times, in one of those articles that makes New Yorkers seem like crazy people. Ah, the stress of throwing a dinner party when you're a lunatic foodie! I avoid this problem by throwing low-key dinner parties and not freaking out, amazingly enough. What I do is plan a menu that can more or less entirely be prepared in advance, say a roast or a tart for a main course. When my guests arrive, we enjoy hors d'oeuvres and appertifs in the living room. They always looks a little anxious when I hang out with them, instead of dashing around the kitchen. Then after a while I say, "Is everyone ready to eat?" and I usually dress the salad (vinaigrette and salad already made in advance too), pull whatever's in the oven out of the oven, and voila! Dinner is served.

Sometimes at this point I have a dessert that's made and that goes into the oven to bake while we eat. Sometimes it's already prepared or doesn't need anything more than a simple assembly. It's amazing how nicely this whole approach to dinner parties can be. I still of course obsess over the menu, and buy high quality ingredients. But for me the fun is having people over, and enjoying their company. I don't care if I'm associated with the wrong kind of olive oil. I care that my friends head home happy and contented after a nice evening.

My extensive experience in making…

My extensive experience in making Paneer compelled me to try something different, that is, making Paneer out of my own breast milk. Woman attempts to make "human cheese" with her supply of frozen breast milk. Passed its "three months drinkability period" but not yet expired, she thought it would be fun to try. Alas, it doesn't work because human breast milk doesn't contain enough protein to curdle. Even if it had worked, who'd eat the cheese? [via BoingBoing]

Per Se’s summery Wagyu-steak salad…

per_se_steak_salad.jpgPer Se’s summery Wagyu-steak salad keeps appearing on the frequently-changing menu. It’s made with Japanese Wagyu, “graded A5, one of the very highest grades,” watercress, vinaigrette made with rendered Wagyu fat, carrots, chive blossoms, radishes, and spiced peanuts. Mmmm, looks and sounds fantastic. I could go for that for dinner tonight!