30 October 2010

Weekend Wreckage, Part VII

Locally (sort of):

[Photo by Corey Templeton]

Civil Eats, in an article about misuse of the term farmers' market nationally, features a shot of Gallit Sammon and Chris Cavendish of Fishbowl Farm.

Everywhere Else:
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists seven criteria, any three of which makes a substance addictive. Salt has four of them: withdrawal symptoms, the development of tolerance, inability to control level of usage, and difficulty quitting or restricting (even with full knowledge of health hazards).
"What's Inside: Doritos Late Night All Nighter Cheeseburger Chips," The Ecology of Food (October 27, 2010).

That's a grill crafted by an Estonian artist from a deep sea mine made in Russia in 1942. [Via Make.]

Check out Daisy she’s a proper cow /A pedigree Friesian with know how /Her and her girls they have their own name / We treat them good / They give us the cream
Yeo Boyz (Featuring Lil' Massey).

… a judge in Brazil has ordered McDonald's to pay a former manager $17,500 based on his allegations that he gained 65 pounds during his years with the company, due to such dastardly corporate practices as offering employees free lunches.

In addition to forcing this free food down his gullet, the company also went so far as to hire inspectors who would show up randomly and send back reports on food, cleanliness and service. As a result of these invasions by what he called "mystery clients," the man alleged he was effectively required to sample his restaurant's food every day to make sure it was up to par, also adding to his girth.
"McDonald's Ordered to Pay Fat Manager," Lowering the Bar (posted October 29, 2010).

I think the best way that everyone could eat is to be at home and cook and eat with your friends and family. Ideally—again, how ideal is this world?—there wouldn’t be a need for a restaurant.
Leslie MeEachern of Angelica Kitchen in New York (quoted in "Community Supported Restaurant: In Conversation With Angelica Kitchen’s Leslie McEachern," Civil Eats (posted on October 12, 2010)). The Angelica Home Kitchen Cookbook is a favorite of mine, unfortunately the recipe for Oden at the end of the interview is, in my opinion, the weakest in the book.

27 October 2010

Tempeh and Root "Crumble"; Also, A Cornucopasetic TV Show Review: River Cottage [Anything].

[Ok, I realize it's not a particularly appetizing photo, but it tasted wonderful.]

That's my new favorite tempeh preparation for Lalibela's tempeh. The tempeh is marinated and cooked in the manner described in Heidi Swenson's TLT Sandwich recipe. And then it's a matter of roasting a bunch of mushrooms in the oven until they brown and look yummy. I also roasted some cherry tomatoes I bought from Mary Ellen at Green Spark Farm with garlic and olive oil. All that combines really well.

The root crumble was an idea from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's current show River Cottage Everyday. I wasn't really keen to try it after seeing it on the show, but our CSA had given us a big surplus of rutabaga, celeriac and potatoes so we gave a vegan version of it a go and it was quite good. This is an excellent vegan replacement for a dairy rich gratin.

Hugh's Root Crumble, Vegan Version
Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Every Day (Episode 3, October 7, 2010)
  • Equivalent amounts of rutabaga, potatoes, parsnips and celeriac, peeled and cut into a bite-sized cubes. You want to pay some attention to cooking time when cutting them, obviously. So make your rutabaga bites a bit smaller than your potato bites, for example. You should have enough to file a large roasting pan.
  • 1 – 2 yellow onions, sliced.
Those are the veggies; go ahead and put them in the roasting pan. Now make a sauce for them by whisking together the following:
  • 3 Tbs. of Dijon mustard;
  • 1 – 2 Tbs. of honey;
  • 4 Tbs. of some kind of vegetable oil; and
  • plenty of salt and pepper.
Pour the sauce over the roots and mix them up. Cover the roasting pan with foil and put them in an oven at 375 for 45 minutes or so. The roots will give up their moisture and everything will steam in the pan under the foil.

Now make a rosemary cashew cream from:
  • 1 Cu. water;
  • 1 Cu. raw, unsalted cashews;
  • 1 – 2 Tbs. of chopped fresh rosemary;
  • some lemon juice; and
  • some salt.
Whiz these ingredients in a food processor. You'll have to do some experimentation here to achieve the consistency of a thick cream and get a pleasant creamy flavor. Note that it takes a long time in the processor to fully break down the cashews so they become creamy. Don't be tempted to add more cashews in order to thicken it until you have really given the initial amount hell.

Take the roots out of the oven and remove the foil. Then put them back in for twenty minutes or so. The water in the bottom of the pan will boil off in the oven and the roots should be tender by the end of this, but be watchful and don't let them dry out.

Now make a crumble topping from some whole wheat bread crumbs and any combination of nuts you think would work: hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans would all be good. Chop the nuts with a knife rather then in a food processor. Mix some olive oil into the topping, enough so the bread crumbs will brown rather than burn. Season the topping also.

When the veggies are ready to come out again, drizzle the cream over the top, then add the crumble topping and put the whole thing back in the oven until the top browns.

You can take the leftovers from this and mash them up and add an egg and some herbs and make little cakes to fry up.

TV Show Review: Anything By Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

I see Hugh's Meat book has been getting some mention on the local blogs and that's great. Are you watching his TV shows too? Maybe everyone is already into these shows, but I'll mention them anyway because if you haven't seen them you really ought to.

After getting the boot from the River Cafe in London, Hugh made a TV show called A Cook on the Wild Side. That was in 1995, but watching it now, the show only seems in dated in rare moments (that are ridiculously funny).

In Wildside, Hugh drove around in a beat up old Land Cruiser (the "Gastrowagon") that was converted into a sort of roving kitchen and foraged and gleaned food from London to Glasgow. In the second season, he swapped the Gastrowagon for a canal barge (the "Bain-Marie").

Some years later he followed up the show by trying his hand at a bit of semi-homesteading. That effort led to a series of River Cottage TV shows that have been produced regularly since the late 90s. At this point he seems almost a bit overblown, with his "River Cottage" idea having turned into what appears to be a big company with branding, cantinas, classes, multiple sites and a torrent of handbooks and cookbooks. None of that has affected my enjoyment of the shows, however.

Watching these shows is a bit tricky; they aren't exactly on Netflix if you know what I mean. I'll leave you to your own devices, but I'm sure you'll easily find them.

[Several weeks worth of:] Weekend Wreckage, Part VI


A sort of carrot revue was apparently held at the Little Ridge Farm. I wanted to join this CSA but it was just too far to drive. Looks like they had fun though and the farmers' website had excellent recipes each week. I wonder if they held a rude carrot contest too and just didn't post about it.


[Image from PPK.]

It's World Vegan Week this week, but you'll just have to take my word for it because official website is not responding. Obviously, it has been hacked by aggressive, carnivorous plants.

According to the chart below [via BoingBoing], "whole wheat anything" is the lowest form of candy (although it is equivalent to a hug and some acetaminophen, which is just about what I need this morning) …

… but Melissa Clark has nonetheless bothered to compare brands of store bought whole wheat pasta. She came to exactly the right conclusion about which brand is best in my opinion.

I looked everywhere for a picture of this, but apparently none of the gadget obsessed locals bothered to whip out their phone cams: a MAYONNAISE SPILL on a highway in Tokyo caused a multi car pile up. What are they calling this, the Kewpie Crash?

This one is old, but I enjoyed the coverage of cops busting raw milk dealers in California. I dream about getting a defense case like that.

[Also old:] Proof that there's a blog for everything, here's one devoted to doing magnetic resonance imaging of food:

Also, Paleovegan discusses taxonomy, specifically the removal of the sub-Order Omnivora.

The paleolithic diet wasn't, new evidence suggests, just about meat. Apparently there were some "potatoes" involved after all (except not potatoes at all, but starchy cattails). [Was this really news to anyone? Seems like this comes up every once in a while. The article led to interesting discussion on the Forage Ahead Yahoo group in any event.]

08 September 2010


When in doubt there is always whatthefuckshouldimakefordinner.com, which even has a vegetarian option.

14 May 2010

Haiku Review: Ten Portland Area Lunch Spots

My best buddy Tyler and I have been doing the rounds at various Portland area luncheries for some not very cornucopasetic, but very fun, eating. Here are our reviews in haiku.

El Rayo


Rating: 6 jumping green lizards.

Two little tacos
failed to excite my taste buds;
ah, but the refresco.

Rating: 5 effervescent cucumber bubbles.
Simple beans and rice
sparkling cucumber cocktail
fusing fares falls flat
Nosh Kitchen Bar


Rating: 7 bacon dusted fries.
This time it was a
sandwich to tell tales about;
bacon dust fries win.

Rating: 9 gusts of freaky cold wind.
Who would have thunk it?
Garlic jam and egg burger
good? You're damn skippy!
Skinny Cart BBQ


Rating: 8 G-spots.
G-spots, bacon bongs:
Is this really barbecue?
Oh hell yes it is!

Rating: 9 wasp's nipples.
Pork chop on a bun
grilled to perfection, quickly
enjoyed on the prom.
Mrs. Muffin & Mr. Sandwich


Rating: 5 macadamia nut and white chocolate chip cookies.
Bread too thick to eat
Is not so yummy a treat;
thanks for the cookie.
[N.B. Tyler's friend Breana and her family opened a bakery and sandwich shop on the corner of Congress and Deering. My sandwich was held back by a french roll that was too dense and hard, and by orange american cheese. Some of the other sandwiches I saw there looked a lot better, so give them some custom to help them work the kinks out. As a further aside, Breana and Katie are really beautiful (and they're twins), so—with all due respect to their mother—the picture that was used for the PPH article is kind of baffling.]


Rating: 8 "she's MY friend, jackass"'s.
turkey, pickle, rye
spicy avocado sauce
sandwich nirvana
Po'Boys & Pickles


Rating: 7 tablespoons of bacon praline.
Fried oyster Po'Boy
and crazy bacon topping—
this place doesn't play.
[N.B. This refers to when I asked for the hot barbecue sauce at a soul food place in Oakland, California. After the sauce cause smoke to come out of my ears, the waitress said, flatly: "Honey, we don't play."]


Rating: 8 used napkins.
sweet potato fries
very jubilant taste buds
I hanker for more
Bogusha's Polish Restaurant and Deli


Rating: 5.5 hot pierogis.
The Polish Platter:
Five forms of starchy goodness.
Oh gods, I'm so full.

Rating: 7 tins of pork
nice Polish accent
yummy home-cooked Polish food
Brad is a lousy tipper
[C: Am not!]

158 Pickett Street Cafe (f/k/a One Fifty Ate)


Rating: 8 cowboy cookies.
In the back clearing
A sandwich epiphany;
Mustard on my shoe.

Rating: 9 flat punchlines
five napkin sandwich
loved every minute; still
licking my fingers


Rating: 8 parma hams.
Very special rice.
So very very special.
And a ham sandwich.
[N.B. Building on the street food presence started by Skinny Cart BBQ, Bazkari will soon be bringing "Spain to Maine" from their street cart at the Wednesday Farmers' Market at Monument Square. Her "Very Special Rice" was amazing with bits of prosciutto, egg, shrimp, pork and scallion. The sandwich that day was ham, manchego and a "special sauce" that I couldn't get very much information about. This place is excellent. For now you can catch them on Wednesdays inside the Portland Public Markethouse. Also, if you phone in your order to them in the morning they'll deliver your lunch to you without charging you a delivery cost.]

Stareast Cafe


Rating: 7 kebabs (pronounced "keh-babbs" like Jamie Oliver or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall would pronounce it).
Lamb kabob, rice and
samoor baked in a tandoor;
I love cardamon.
[N.B. This place got robbed by Nancy English's review a few years back. The rice served with the kabobs is really excellent—basmati with small threads of vermicelli that have been fried with cardamon and tumeric. He sprinkles ground sumac over the lamb kabob. The lamb is tender. The bread is baked in a tandoor to order, so you get it still crispy and hot and the hummus sort of melts into it. Why don't we hear more about this place on the food blogs? Sure the decor isn't much, but so what.]

Taste of Tampa


Rating: 6.5 conch fritters, in transit from the Bahamas.
Manly ham sandwich
produced amidst purses
and dresses: still good.
[N.B. This place had a soft opening today. The interior is pretty crazy. I wasn't really sure they actually offered food until I found my way to the back past all the purses and clothes and giant, fake plants dominating the several central tables that each, oddly enough, have just one chair. Today they only had their cubana sandwich and a pulled pork sandwich. I know there's a whole cult following for the cubana sandwich and that it's supposedly impossible to get one made correctly outside of Miami or whatever—I've never had the real deal so I don't know the difference—but this sandwich was pretty good: crispy on the outside, not unmanageably large, nice sauce, although it could maybe use some better ham. Starting next week they'll have conch fritters, bean fritters, corn fritters, crab empanadas, fig empanadas, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I'd suggest getting it to go and eating it in some nice, sunny place.]

06 May 2010

No Queso "Quesadillas" and La Bodega Latina

I was sure I read somewhere that La Bodega Latina didn't serve hot food anymore. I remember being really, really sad about this. But yesterday I went there to get some yuca root and they had the usual compliment of fried chicken and empanadas and potato balls and even those amazing strips of pork belly with the super crispy skin on them [how do they cook that?].

[Image from Wikipedia.]

No Queso, "Quesadillas" With Yuca, Chard And Other Stuff In My Refrigerator
[I'm sort of mashing/mixing-up/channeling Veganomicon here, I think.]

  • 1 yuca root
  • 1 bunch of chard with the largest part of the stems removed [Isn't silverbeet a cooler name for it? Why is silverbeet not used more often?]
  • 2 – 3 cloved of garlic, roughly chopped
  • About one pepper's worth of red and yellow bell peppers, diced
  • 1 cup of frozen corn
  • 1 good handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Juice from one lime
  • Whole wheat tortillas
Peel the yuca and cut it up into chunks and boil it in water until tender. While the yuca is boiling, which takes about 20 minutes, bring another pot of water to a boil for the chard. Boil or steam the chard for a few minutes until its tender and done, then drain it and squeeze the water out of it and roughly chop it. Also while the yuca is boiling away, saute the garlic and diced peppers.
Take the yuca off the heat when it's done, but before you drain it you can toss your frozen corn in there and let it sit for minute or two to thaw it. Now drain the yuca and corn, put it in a bowl and mash it up gently (meaning, without creating a giant, homogeneous starchy mess). Add the sauteed garlic and pepper, the chard, cilantro, lime juice and some salt and pepper and that's your "quesadilla" filling. I use a mixture of olive oil and Earthbalance for grilling the quesadillas.

05 April 2010

Good News: Black Bean Tempeh From Lalibela Farm

Andrew from Lalibela Farms offered me a sample of their new black bean—that is, soy free—tempeh. I tried really hard to resist the obvious approach of just putting it tacos, but that's exactly what we did with it tonight and it was really excellent. I rubbed in oil and spices and grilled it.

I'm told the black bean tempeh will be available from them in a few weeks after certain tests are completed by the state. Other not-soy-bean-bean tempehs in the offing: possibly chickpea or navy bean.

EDIT: Scooped again by Avery.

Sad News: Mother Oven Bakery Closing Down

Dean Zoulamis is closing down Mother Oven Bakery on May 1st of this year. This is sad news indeed. He is taking special orders for the month of April for those who want to stock up on Mother Oven items and freeze them. Fortunately, I understand that he may be teaching some baking classes in the area after the bakery is closed and also helping people build their own wood fired ovens.

[Photo from Peter Smith's Sunday Best.]

02 April 2010

Weekend Wreckage, Part V


VoterVale Farm's Lamb Cam!

Rabelais Books reminds us that there are some really interesting stories behind Maine's latest crop of of organic farmers.

Food For Maine's Future's 5th Annual Local & Sustainable Food Conference is coming up on April 10 and 11.

Peter Smith's piece on Will Bonsall, "a self-designated Noah," posted late last year, was really interesting.

Portland Cook's second post is a radio interview with Randy Lautz of MeFoodTrader.org (and MeAgTrader.org).

I've been enjoying LisaF's permaculture related twitter feed.

Little Ridge Farm's blog has a lot of good recipes for anyone who gets overloaded with veggies from their CSA this summer.

From Away

Mollie Katzen recasts the detestable word "flexitarian" as "vegatablist."

Maciej Cegłowski, who came up with the term steakation and who's blog includes the excellent Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel post, writes about the discovery and loss of the cure for scurvy.

King Corn was a great movie, but it pulled a lot of punches when it came to environmental issues. They take up that topic in a sort of sequel: Big River.

No, I do not have a lettuce fetish:


Finally, as a sort of follow up to the interview with Jeff from Heiwa Tofu, I should mention the Tempeh and Tofu Challenge.

30 March 2010

Cornucopasetic Interview: Jeff Wolovitz of Heiwa Tofu

I used to live near a tofu "factory" in Sacramento, California, that made the best tofu I had, up to that time, ever had. Before discovering that tofu, I just couldn't understand why anyone would bother with the stuff. The place also made really good soy milk. Unfortunately, I have yet to find any soy milk as good, but there is a local option for tofu that is even better than the stuff I used to get in California: Heiwa Tofu.

Heiwa Tofu is run by Jeff and Maho Wolovitz. Jeff was kind enough to answer some questions about Heiwa Tofu for Part II of our interview series (read Part I with Jaime Berhanu). Now, I'm no photographer—as this blog constantly proves—but Kate Hasset is. She created a gallery of images she took on her visit Heiwa's "mini-factory," so you can take a virtual tour after reading the interview.

I only discovered your tofu sometime last year. How long now has Heiwa Tofu been in business and how long have you been making tofu?

The business turned out its first batch in September 2008. During the year the leading up to making tofu in the "mini-factory" in Camden, I practiced making it at home maybe a dozen times. It was very messy and time consuming. I'd spend four hours and end up with like three pounds of tofu. It tasted so good!

How did you come to start Heiwa? I saw on your website that you bought your tofu making equipment from a man named Rob Lovell, who had it in his barn for twenty years. There has to be a good story there. Why did he have tofu equipment in a barn in Maine for twenty years?

I was in my fourth year of teaching high school science and wanted out. I wanted to get back into the local food systems. I spent three years apprenticing on organic farms before becoming a teacher. I tossed around a handful of niches that I thought I could fill. The tofu one seemed the safest. I talked to a lot of people about it and eventually, someone mentioned that Rob used to make tofu in Rockport in the 1980's. I connected with him and he still had a lot of his equipment. Just as he was getting ready to move! He was glad to get it out of his garage and to see it getting used. He had many fond memories of his tofu making years.

Where do you get your soy beans? Are these the same beans that Lalibela Farm is using to make their tempeh?

Bob Reisner in Skowhegan. I'd like to diversify. I've talked to Henry Perkins about growing this coming year. Also, Donnie Webb in Pittson. Donnie cleaned Bob's beans for me this year and would like to try growing soybeans for me. They are all great folks. I've really enjoyed getting to know them all. We'll run out of the beans Bob grew sometime in the late spring or early summer. When that happened last year, I got beans from another Bob (Bob Crowe) who is near Albany, NY. I like and trust him a lot, too. The beans aren't certified organic, but the are tested non-GMO and pesticide free. I have so much to learn about soybeans and tofu making. I use a lot. At least 20,000 pounds this year. That takes roughly ten to twenty acres of land and will make 35,000 pounds of tofu!

Your process for making tofu is described pretty thoroughly on your site. How many beans do you go through in a given production cycle and how much tofu do those beans make?

Currently, each batch of tofu is twenty-five pounds of dry beans. My current yield is 1.6. For every pound of dry beans, I get 1.6 pounds of tofu. Bob Crowe's beans had a yield of 1.8. Same seed source, but maybe the New York summers are warmer and dryer. Over the course of a year, that small difference in yield adds up to a lot of tofu and money.

Is Heiwa Tofu a full time business for you?

By the end of the summer, we were up to six hundred pounds a week. Then things dropped off quickly once September hit. I worked hard at marketing through the fall and picked up a few biggish clients at fifty pounds a week and I've been making eight batches—320 pounds—twice a week pretty steadily since New Year's. But the business keep growing. I've begun some nine batch days to keep up with the demand, but physically, I am near my limits of production. It is such physically demanding work. I get the shop at 5:00am and work straight through till 4:00pm or 5:00pm. Go, go, go practically the whole time. I've made a couple of small changes to my process recently and actually get some time to breathe in there. Did you notice some of the very soft or rock hard tofu over the past month as I was figuring it out? [Ed.: Yes, actually, I did.] Mainly, I changed how I add the coagulant, the amount of water I cook with, and the temperature to which I heat and curdle the soymilk. I am ready to make some other changes because I won't be able to keep up with demand once summer rolls around and there are more people in Maine. I'll increase my batch size a bit. A I am hoping to get to a place where I can make 450 – 500 pounds in a twelve hour day.

It is nice to see a lot of small producers in Maine making wonderful ingredients. There seem to be more and more people trying to make a living that depends on the growing interest in eating locally produced food. Do you have any suggestions for someone who wants to start up a small food production business in Maine like yours?

Number one is to keep it simple. Also, when you are planning, figure what your average, absolutely best and worst years might looks like. I used to plan that things will take twice as long as I hoped and cost twice as much I as thought. Over the past year, I've changed them both to three times as long and three times as much!

My family drinks a lot of soy milk. When I lived in Davis, California, we were near a fantastic tofu and soy milk factory. But there is no local soy milk—as far as I know—available in Maine. Have you ever considered producing it too? Do you make soy milk at home?

We don't really use soymilk and I don't sell it. I am not convinced that it is really part of the traditional diet, but a newer trend in Asian countries. Commercial soymilk in this country is cooked at a high enough temperature to destroy most of the trypsin uptake inhibitors, but I don't cook that high of a temperature (I'd need a pressure cooker). I'll admit I haven't done much research concerning it. I've also heard that soymilk is a very strong/concentrated food
and that by not going through the chewing action when drinking it, it is harder to digest.

[Ed. I was not going to include the next question at first, but Jeff's response was just too right to pass up.]

I understand that there is, or has been for some time now, a group of people suggesting soy products, particularly unfermented soy products, are not healthy for a variety of reasons. We feed our kids (and ourselves) a lot a soy in any given week, so we looked into this issue quite thoroughly; it seems that the soy detractors have not closely read the research they refer to and have no real scientific basis for their arguments. Do you have any comments about this issue?

I try to stay out of soy politics. I believe in moderation and avoid food dogmas. You've got to feed your soul and eat what feels good.

Where can we find Heiwa Tofu in the greater Portland area?

If you look on our website, there is a current list of where you can get our tofu. For Portland, you'd find Heiwa Tofu at The Green Elephant, North Star Music Cafe, and Aurora Provisions. I am hoping to get our tofu into Silly's soon. Also, you can get it at the Friendly Toast in Porthsmouth and in Northwood, NH, at Susty's.

[Ed.: Also, you can buy it at Rosemont, of course, and through the Portland Food Coop via Crown of Maine.]

Any Parting Comments?

In this country, tofu is used in so many different ways—smoothies, vegetarian chili, etc. How does it fit into the traditional diet? In this country, it seems like tofu is a food for vegetarians and vegans. Its a meat substitute. But in Japan and China (and probably other Asian countries) almost everyone eats it regularly. In Japan, people might have small amounts of tofu everyday. It's just another protein source, rather than a substitute for meat. [Ed.: Check out the seafood and soft tofu dishes at Happy Teriyaki, for example, although it's not exactly a local, whole food haven.]

I am so happy to be involved in the local food economy as a processor. People have been so supportive everywhere I go.

Thank you, Jeff!

Jeff also left me with a recipe for "neatballs."

Italian Style Tofu Neatballs

  • 12 – 16 ounces tofu;
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped;
  • 1/2 cup peas or grated carrot (optional);
  • 1 medium onion, minced;
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup bread crumbs;
  • 1 egg beaten;
  • 1.5 Tbsp red miso; and
  • Dried herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme, and so forth.
Squish up all the ingredients with your hands. Really work it so it oozes out from between your fingers! Form into balls and deep fry or bake in greased casserole at 350° until browned. Cover with tomato sauce and bake for 15 minutes.

19 February 2010

Ukoy (Squash and Sweet Potato Fritters); Nosh Mini Review

Birthday lunch for Stephanie this weekend included Ukoy—a Filipino fritter traditionally made with shrimp. Steph is not very omnivorous, so the above is a picture of the vegan version we made her. The recipe below is based on one given to my mom by a friend of her's from the Philippines.


  • A handful of Maine shrimp, bought fresh and in their shells. [Hurry, the season must almost be over!]
  • 2 Tbs. annato seeds
  • About 3/4 lbs. of squash, grated. We used an acorn squash, but you could use butternut or red kuri, or just about any squash. See my comment about butternut squashes below.
  • 1 sweet potato, grated
  • 1/2 Cu. corn starch
  • 1/2 Cu. flour
  • Scallions, the green tops, sliced thinly
Shell the shrimp, reserving the heads and shells. Simmer the shrimp heads and shells with the annato seeds in one cup of water for a while, then drain, reserving the water. Poach the shrimp meat in the reserved water very lightly (not until cook through). Drain the shrimp, reserving the poach water. Now make the fritters by combining the grated squash, grated sweet potato, cornstarch, flour and enough of the reserved poach water (maybe 1/2 Cu.) to make a batter just barely hold together. [N.B.: These amounts are all really approximate, so you may have to play with them.]

Heat a half an inch or more of oil in a wok or some other pot suitable for frying the fritters. Make a small patty out of the mixture on a plate and press a few shrimp into the top of the patty together with some scallions. Slide the patty into the oil. You can baste the top of the fritter with some oil to cook the shrimp into the fritter before flipping it. Cook the fritters until crispy and yummy. Sprinkle with salt, of course.

You can optionally serve the fritters with a sauce made with 1 Tbs. mashed garlic, salt and 1 Cu. white vinegar. I think they are fine without the sauce, however.

Featured Farm: The Best Squash I Have Ever Eaten …

… was a waltham butternut squash from Little Ridge Farm. Seriously, it was amazing. Little Ridge will raise pigs if you pay a deposit up front. I'm considering doing this, but I'm not sure I eat enough pork to justify it. You can also place a down payment on turkey or join their CSA.

Cornucopasetic Micro Restaurant Review: Nosh

I went to Nosh for a business lunch last week. I ended up with the pork belly reuben, which is a massive overkill of a sandwich: thick slices of braised pork belly, caramelized onions standing in for the sauerkraut, cheese and russian dressing. From those ingredients it should have been a legendary sandwich to tell my grand children about, but it somehow ended up being just okay. The fries were a major disappointment, however, because they were probably really good fries but they were coated in some lime flavored "dust" that was just horrible. The chipotle mayo that went with the fries was harsh and similarly horrible. In spite of all that, there were enough interesting sounding sandwiches on the menu that I'd like to try it one more time and see if my meal was just a fluke.

Find of the Week Via The Green Hand Bookstore

While waiting to sort an order for the Portland Food Coop this week, I visited The Green Hand Bookstore—which is run by the lady that runs the Strange Maine blog—and saw the most awesome book ever: a choose-your-own-adventure version of Staying Alive!

16 February 2010

Week-end Wreckage, Part IV

We have two great local food interviews in the works. Meanwhile, here's the week-end wreckage:

Heather Davis, who works for the local non-profit The Telling Room, wrote in and asked that I mention her organization's Movable Feast event on February 24. The Telling Room website describes the event as follows:

Please join The Telling Room and friends for a culinary experience unlike any other; one that will take you and your group on a journey in three acts. In one evening, we will visit three acclaimed restaurants—Local 188, Five Fifty-Five, and David's—to enjoy three different courses, followed by a last call at Local 188.
[Nice correct typographical usage of emdashes, Telling Room.] The Telling Room works with kids to improve literacy and writing skills through story-telling, which is pretty cool, so please consider helping them out.

Check out Kate Hasset's amazing photographs of Maine food greats such as Mother Oven Bakery, Heiwa Tofu, Black Crow Bakery and others.

From Away:

My new favorite neologism is "Taco Shed." [via BLDBLG.] I am passing on the coined taco term, T&T&A, for the time being [as reported on Huffington Post recently].

Behold, the "Anti Fridge." [Via Ecology of Food via Edible Geography.]

Obi-Wan Canoli: Yes, Cuke. The Farm is what gives us our power; it's a kind of 'field' that creates all edible things. But, alas, the market has been taken over by the dark side of the Farm. [Via Edible Geography.]

Finally, what you've always wanted: a wasabi smoke alarm. Imagine setting that off accidentally. Calligula's recent "restaurant debauchery" post reminds me of the time I won $20.00 by snorting a line of wasabi powder. It wasn't nearly enough money. [What is the statute of limitations on criminal offenses in Illinois anyway?]

Also, yes, I know that I never spell dessert properly as has been recently pointed out.

13 February 2010

Week-End Wreckage, Part III

Some new (to me) local food blogs: Karen, who writes for Maine Loves Food, wrote in to mention her food blog, Mignardise, which is nice. Judging from her blog's facebook page, everyone knew about her but me. Also, local (Peak's) author Catherynne Valente has started posting occasional restaurant reviews on her livejournal. She kicks things off with a review of Paciarino. Her latest book, Palimpsest, was the best by far of any book I read last year. Sadly, she totally pans Paciarino, partly for reasons I understand but nonethless I have a real soft spot for the place and I feel pretty sad she didn't enjoy her lunch there.

Jamie Oliver won a TED Prize and gave a terrific speech at this year's TED conference on food and obesity in America. He's a bit over-excited and over-anxious in the presentation, and there is much he says that one must take on faith (although it's hard not to at this point), but it is definitely worth the eighteen minutes to watch it.

As for the best book I've read this year (so far), it's definitely Novella Carpenter's Farm City.

Carpenter started and now runs a small farm in a ghetto in Oakland, California, by squatting on land adjacent to her apartment. [I used to stay at a friend's apartment just half a mile from where her farm is now located, and, yeah, it wasn't exactly a safe place.] The book is divided into three parts, each detailing her efforts to raise a different animal—turkeys, rabbits and pigs. But beyond the immediate story of her urban farming amidst drive by shootings, which is engrossing enough, she takes up an interesting issue in each of the three parts: things like the fate of the 1970s back to the land movement by her (and my) parent's generation and the relevance of that fate with respect to the growing interest in urban farming in America. It's brilliantly literate from the first sentence and just excellently written throughout. I'm really sad now that I missed the signing at Rabelais Books. Hey Rabelais, do you have any signed copies? I had to get this by interlibrary loan and I think I'd like to own it.

12 February 2010

Tempeh in Sauerkraut; Also, Two Vegan Cookbook Mini-Reviews and a Cornucopasetic Bonus Recipe: What to Do With Rosario's Whole Wheat Baguettes

Dinner tonight: tempeh cooked with sauerkraut and tomatoes; roasted potatoes; Rosario's awesome whole wheat baguette in awesome sauce. The recipe for tempeh simmered in sauerkraut in Robin Robertson's Vegan Planet looked ridiculously simple and boring, so overlooked it at first. I'm glad I bothered to give it a try though.

Tempeh With Sauerkraut and Tomatoes
Adapted from Robin Robertson, Vegan Planet (2003)

Tempeh, sauerkraut, tomatoes. That's pretty much the recipe. It's almost too simple to post, but it was good and sort of satisfying in some way that I thought was worth mentioning.

  • One package of Lalibela Farm's tempeh, cut into a 1/2 inch dice;
  • 2 cups of Thirty Acre Farm's Sauerkraut (the kind with with the juniper berries and caraway seeds, but remove the juniper berries for this recipe);
  • Half a 28 ounce can of tomatoes, diced, with their juice;
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar, maybe a bit more; and
  • salt, pepper.
Brown the tempeh cubes in oil for a few minutes. I have notice that the Lalibela tempeh develops a nice nutty flavor when it is browned slowly; the lightlife tempeh I preferred before there was good local tempeh didn't do this at all. Once the tempeh is browned, add the remaining ingredients, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for fifteen minutes. If the result is too watery at the end of the fifteen minutes, remove the cover and let it reduce.

Cookbook Mini-Review: Vegan Planet (2003) by Robin Robertson
Vegan Planet isn't the book to turn to for a cashew cream bechemel or oolong smoked tofu, but it's great for a night when you want dinner in less than an hour and you're too tired to think. The recipe above is about the least of what's in it, so don't let it steer you away from the book, but it does highlight some of Robin's ability to keep vegan cooking dead simple, healthy and yet interesting without going over the top. Robin has a number of other books that I haven't read, and she maintains a blog that you might be interested in. Final verdict: highly recommended for vegans and vegan poseurs such as myself.

Cookbook Mini-Review: Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine (2009) by Bryant Terry

I'm going to do what I haven't yet seen done in the blogosphere: pan Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen. Here's why: Bryant is working on all the right food issues in all the right ways, but he's not first and foremost a chef; he's a creative and effective writer, but he's not (yet) great at writing and testing recipes. We have to back up at this point and talk about why this book made such a splash. It's quirky as hell for a cookbook: it opens with music for a song that he wrote; each recipe is accompanied by recommendations not for wine but for tracks of music and art (and they're right on, too); and he takes on a cuisine that many don't off-hand associate with vegan cooking. However, many of the recipes are poorly written or were just not tested at all (the mafe recipe is a prime example). In places the book offers an interesting perspective and a few clever combinations, but it's not a book that you will learn any new tricks from if you have even a little bit of vegan cooking under your belt. Final verdict: it's a fun read but I'd suggest borrowing it from a library (if it's available) or me (just ask) before giving into to an impulse buy.

UPDATE: This is the age of Google alert after all, so I should not have been surprised when Mr. Terry commented on my post within hours after I posted it. I feel like a bit of a prick after reading his comment so I thought I ought to add this addendum to my review. Not only did I get Mr. Terry's name wrong, but I worried that I may have been a bit unfair. After some thought on the matter, I do stand by my review although I think I may not have expressed myself very clearly. What I was trying to say was that this is an interesting and fun book to read in its own right, but that if you already have some measure of experience cooking vegan food many of the recipes in this book will not be a revelation, although there are a few interesting recipes here and there. If vegan cooking is a new thing to you, this is a good place to start, although I did feel that some of the recipes were not as concisely written as they could have been.

Cornucopasetic Bonus Recipe: Better Than Garlic Bread

I like using Rosario's whole wheat baguette to make garlic bread, but it's even better when you spread on top: olive oil, a few cloves of garlic, a handful of walnuts, some fresh rosemary, salt and pepper all smashed like crazy to a paste in a mortar.

10 February 2010

Portland Farmers' Market Website; Also Portland Winter Farmers' Market

Tempeh hero, Jaime Berhanu, developed a website for the Portland Farmers' Market.

Also, be sure to check out opening day of the Portland Winter Farmers' Market this next Saturday, February 1020, 2010, at 85 Free Street starting at 10:00 am. [Thanks, Kate.]

04 February 2010

Week-end Wreckage, Part II (a bit ahead of schedule)

Yes, a tumblr exists solely for posting images of Tom Selleck, waterfalls and sandwiches. That shrimp po' boy does looks good though …

Also, I had to laugh at the vegan professor in Canada who is spamming Sarah Palin by snail mail with daily entreaties to veganism. Good luck with that and let me know if you need any stamps, professor.

[Image from the LA Times.]

Finally, I noted in the wild a few new (to me) Maine food blogs. First, Paul Drowns' blog devoted to chronicling his endeavors in charcuterie: Gimme Real Food; also, Portland based "Lukaduke's" very localfoodie-esque blog project for 2010 chronicling his year in local food named, alas, LocalroootZ.

29 January 2010

Week-end Wreckage, Part I

[Pride by Jamie Wyeth.]

I don't generally like the post-a-minute food sites like slashfood or serious eats, but every once in a while they post something that contains an interesting sentence like this:

Argentina's president Cristina Fernandez suggested that devouring pork was a viable alternative to Viagra and she had just spent a very fulfilling weekend with her husband after eating barbecued pork.
[via /food.]

Closer to this blog's roots, though, I thought I'd mention my new favorite vegan blog name: Seitan Is My Motor.

Things I learned this week include the fact that there is a fruit that will cause sour things to taste sweet, and that you only need to be eight years old to hold a recreational (non-commercial) lobster permit.

25 January 2010

Vegan Lasagna Night; Also, Eating With the Bloggers, Part III

We finally achieved a really satisfying vegan lasagna thanks to the people at Tofu for Two, and their amazing cashew-cream béchamel-esque sauce. While their sauce was wonderful, I thought I could improve on their lasagna design a bit.

My Lasagna stratigraphic column:

  1. The Fungus Formation (FF): A large batch of roasted mushrooms made from about two quarts of crimini mushrooms.
  2. The Chard Chert (CC): Two or three bunches of chard dropped for a minute or two into a pot of boiling water, then drained, pressed and chopped.
  3. The Browned Tempeh Conglomerate (BTC): Given all the hard work Jaime puts into making Lalibela Farm's Tempeh stick together in a firm cake, it seems awfully rude to rip it apart in a cheese grater and saute it with garlic and olive oil, but do it anyway. Jaime said so! Also, when sauteing the tempeh there may be an odd smell, but just press on, sauteing very slowly, because the tempeh develops a nice nutty flavor as it browns that makes it all worthwhile.
  4. The Massive Marinara Metapelite (MMM): A tomato sauce made in the usual way from a 28 ounce can of tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions, herbs, wine and a whole head of garlic, given a bit of the business with an immersion blender after it's done simmering.
  5. The T42 Till (T42): The full recipe from Tofu For Two linked to above; you will probably have a bit left over, which is just fine. You can roll up any left over lasagna noodles with it and any spare tomato sauce for a quick treat.
  6. The Noodle Group (NG): It takes a couple packages of the only whole wheat lasagna noodles I can find since I'm too lazy to make my own.
Layer those however you like. Ours from the bottom up in an 8.5" by 12.5" oven dish: tomato sauce, noodles, cashew cream, chard, mushrooms, noodles, tomato sauce, tempeh, noodles, cashew cream, chard, mushrooms, noodles, cashew cream and then some whole wheat panko mixed with a bit of melted earth balance.

Eating With The Bloggers, Part III

[Eating With the Bloggers, Part II and Part I.]

I had a week recently where I made a lot of things inspired by recipes on Heidi Swanson's excellent blog, 101 Cookbooks. The real highlights were:
  • I very highly recommend the Bulgur and Spinach Pilaf. I made a number of alterations that I can't quite remember. We omitted the "labneh" certainly, and I think I dropped the spinach in boiling water briefly, drained and pressed it and did not saute it. In any event this is a beautiful dish.
  • Tempeh madness continued at Cornucopasetic HQ with orange glazed tempeh.
  • This pineapple rice would have been really wonderful if I had realized my sunflower oil was a bit off. [N.B.: When the guy that makes the local sunflower oil tells you to refrigerate your sunflower oil, I think he really means it.] I made this with wilted spinach and peas and some other vegetables rather than placing it on a bed of greens, and I served it with the orange glazed tempeh above.
  • Pounded walnut pesto! Not really something you need a recipe for, but it was good to have the suggestion, and the pesto—made in just the mortar, which produced an interesting, less homogeneous texture—was really amazing.

20 January 2010

God Hates Shrimp

We are recovering from an extended period of under-the-weatherness here at Cornucopasetic. In the meantime, I thought I should share God Hates Shrimp with you, which is worth a short laugh at least.