For a month my diet consisted largely of as much as I wanted of the following:  bread, cheese, butter, jam, pasta, potatoes, pastries, and chocolate.  If you've ever eaten Swiss bread, you know why that tops the list.  And maybe it wasn't quite as much as I wanted in the pastry department, but that was largely a matter of timing, i.e. getting to the store before the best choices ran out.  Sure, we ate a few other things, but bread and cheese really is a Swiss staple, and when I'm in town I never waste the opportunity.

While I was there, my exercise regimen was reduced from three times per week to three times per month.

I came home five pounds lighter than when I left.

I am so over the anti-carbohydrate hype.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, July 3, 2015 at 11:57 am | Edit
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My airplane dinner was very good, as airplane dinners go, so I don't mean to complain.  But I couldn't help noticing that the first ingredient on a wedge of cheese labeled "Swiss cheese" was cheddar.  Swiss cheese was there, too, several items later—after water.  What's particularly odd is that of all the amazing cheeses readily available here in Switzerland, chedder is not one of them.

And then there was this bottle of Alpine Spring water, "bottled at the source"...

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... in Tennessee.

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As I sit here, typing away at the edge of the Alps themselves, I can assure you beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are nowhere near Tennessee.

If our laws concerning product labelling allow this, why should I trust any label at all?

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, June 15, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Edit
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Another goal, albeit one of the easier ones, accomplished:  I reaearched and bought a food processor.

Actually, I have one already, and hardly use it.  So why buy a new one?

The one I have was a gift from my father, many, many years ago.  I have a hard time getting rid of something associated with someone I love.  Or some place I love.  Or any situation with positive memories.  Even if it's broken or no longer useful.  Okay, I'll admit it:  I have a hard time getting rid of things.  I'm working on that.

This appliance was a combination blender and food processor, and the blender part gave up and was replaced years ago.  I hadn't used the food processor part very much, but it still worked, so of course I kept it.  I used it almost exclusively for making cole slaw, but eventually it became easier (and faster) to shred the cabbage by hand—and even easier to buy pre-shredded cabbage at the grocery store.

Not long ago, I found a recipe that I wanted to try, and it recommended using a food processor to shred the cauliflower, so I dug ours out.  And discovered why I rarely use it.  The motor wasn't powerful enough, and the workings kept getting jammed, so I'd have to stop, clear it out, and restart, over and over again.  The process finally completed, but it was a pain, and made mess.  However, it turned out that we both like the recipe, so I want to make it again—only without so much hassle.

After some thought, I concluded that I'd use a food processor for much more than shredding cauliflower—if it worked as I think it should.  I'm generally loath to bring more potential clutter into the house, but I wanted to give the idea of the appliance a second chance.  Hence #29 on my list.

I decided on the Cuisinart DLC-10S, attempting to hit the midpoint between unnecessarily complex and expensive, and too cheap to do the job.  Time will tell.  After I get a chance to play with it some, I'll come back and comment here.

For the curious, here's the recipe that drove this decision.  Follow the link for the original; the text version below reflects my small modifications and notations.  Also note:  This is a "Paleo" recipe, and I emphatically don't do Paleo.  But I'm not a vegetarian either, and some vegetarian recipes are really good.  Also, I don't care what the title says, these are in no way anything deserving of the name "biscuits."  You don't have to be a Southerner to appreciate that!  However, even though our Maryland friends would throw their own hands up in horror at the thought, we both found them a quite acceptable "crab cake," especially with cocktail sauce.  Delicious, in fact, and I suspect they could be made vegetarian without much loss by leaving out the bacon.  Who'd have thought cauliflower could taste so good?  Then again, who'd ever have thought of putting cocktail sauce on cauliflower?

Cauliflower Biscuits with Bacon & Jalapeño

Ingredients

  • florets from one head cauliflower (Next time I'll include more of the stems, since you shred them anyway.)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup fully cooked bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped

 Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  • Using a food processor with a shredding blade attachment, shred the cauliflower.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Sauté the shredded cauliflower with jalapeño, bacon, & spices for about 7 minutes to get the cauliflower cooking (should be softened & slightly translucent). (I found it took much longer than 7 minutes.)
  • Remove from heat, and stir in the eggs & almond flour.
  • With a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake the biscuits at 400ºF for 35-40 minutes, or until they look browned & crispy.  (For my oven, this was too long.  They were still good, but would have been better not so brown on the bottom.)
  • Allow the biscuits to cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, January 30, 2015 at 9:11 am | Edit
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What, pray tell, is the point of being able to get a foreign product in the U.S. if it has the same or similar name but has an entirely different composition?  I made this discovery earlier, when Nestlé acquired the rights to market the Ovaltine malted chocolate drink in the United States.  I remember Ovaltine as a child, the name having been changed from the Swiss Ovomaltine by a typo in the legal papers.  In Switzerland, Ovomaltine comes in many forms, from awesome chocolate bars to cookies to breakfast cereal to the hot chocolate drink that Nestlé appears to be imitating.  But there turns out to be a huge difference between the two products:  the version you can buy in America has been modified beyond recognition, to conform more to other Nestlé product flavors.  Most importantly, what is overseas an entirely malt-sweetened product is in America loaded with sugar.  I'm a big fan of sugar, to be sure, and other Ovomaltine products in Switzerland do make use of that ingredient.  But when you have a perfectly good chocolate product without added sugar, why mess with it?

Ask the people at Hershey.  Being from Pennsylvania, I have a natural sympathy with the Hershey company, even if I find their chocolate mediocre.  But this time they've gone too far.  I'd wondered why Cadbury chocolate no longer tasted as good as I remembered it from a long-ago visit to England, but had just assumed that memory was gilding the previous exprience.  No, I was informed by my brother, who lived in England for quite a while and visted yet more recently.  In America, he said, chocolate under the Cadbury name is an entirely different product from that in the U.K.  And while one used to be able to purchase the real thing in some specialty shops, Hershey has broght that to an end through (surprise, surprise) a lawsuit.

Hershey's has blocked British-made Cadbury chocolate from entering the US. The chocolate company struck up a deal with Let's Buy British Imports to stop imports of Cadbury products made overseas ... A Hershey's representative told The New York Times that the company has the rights to manufacture Cadbury chocolate in America using different recipes, and that importing British chocolate is an infringement.

Once again:  same name, different product for dumb Americans.

The New York Times broke down the major differences between the kinds of chocolates.  "Chocolate in Britain has a higher fat content; the first ingredient listed on a British Cadbury’s Dairy Milk (plain milk chocolate) is milk" ... "In an American-made Cadbury’s bar, the first ingredient is sugar."  The American version also contains preservatives.

This deception is now protected by copyright law.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 6:43 am | Edit
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You'd be shocked at the number of people who think our daughter and her family live in Sweden.  Just as homeschoolers know that they will inevitably and repeatedly be asked the S Question ("But what about socialization?"), the Swiss know that much of the world will always think they live in the land of IKEA, ABBA, and free health care.  Thus I was not surprised to see the following in an article on the Cooking Light website.

First Up: You'll love this Rösti Casserole with Baked Eggs. We have whittled down the calories in this traditional Swedish dish and added our own spin with Greek yogurt and artisan spices. This dish embodies the alluring qualities you'd expect from rösti—shredded potatoes that are cooked until browned and crisp on the edges. Serve with a colorful mixed greens salad.

At least the Swiss won't have to be annoyed at the alterations to their traditional dish—they can blame it on the Swedes.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 8:30 am | Edit
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Chick-fil-A remains my favorite fast food restaurant, ever.  I like the company; friends who have worked there say it's a good place to work.  I like the fact that they are closed on Sundays.  Well, okay, I've more than once wished I could eat there on a Sunday, but I do appreciate that they take—and give their employees—the day off.  I also like the fact that, although not required here to do so, they post the calorie counts of their meals on the menu.

None of that, however, would of itself induce me to eat there.  That takes good food.  For the genre, it's great food.  If we're in need (or want) of a quick, easy meal, and there's a Chick-fil-A nearby, and it's not Sunday, there's no debate:  Chick-fil-A is my first choice.  Their chicken sandwiches—especially the spicy versions—are the best I've eaten anywhere, including those from my own kitchen.  Their waffle fries are very good, their lemonade is real, and their breakfast biscuits? ahhh!

Why this paean?  We just returned from breakfast at our local Chick-fil-A:  a spicy chicken biscuit for me, and their new grilled chicken sandwich for Porter.  Ketchup and barbecue sauce came with our meals, but we brought them home untouched:  the food was that good, unadorned.  I could easily have eaten two of those spicy chicken biscuits—except, of course, for the above-mentioned calorie counts.

Even better:  thanks to coupons, our breakfast was totally free.  This is a case where I will not say a meal was worth what we paid for it!  And despite our not spending a cent, the man who took our order was friendly, cheerful, and gracious, and did not hesitate to fix us the chicken sandwich (normally a lunch and dinner item) during early breakfast hours, only apologizing that we had to wait five minutes.

Now if only Connecticut would get with the picture.  The closest Chick-fil-A to Old Saybrook is north of Springfield, Massachusetts!

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 8:21 am | Edit
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With Ash Wednesday only a week away, look what Ben & Jerry's has done!

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Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 10:40 am | Edit
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"I don't want to eat" has almost never been a problem in our family!  Nonetheless, this article on ending mealtime battles caught my eye, and it has some wisdom in it, so I'm passing it on.  I can sum up what I like about it in a couple of quotes.

It's dinnertime and my 4-year-old son is deep in play. When I announce that dinner is ready he makes his own announcement: "I don't want to eat, Mommy."

I tell him five words that avoid the food battle that he wants me to engage in: "You don't have to eat."

This is the rule in our house but it is followed by a second rule that everyone follows, regardless of wanting to eat or not. I tell him that family dinners are about being with family, and not just eating, so we all have to sit at the table.

What I like most about Ellyn Satter's Division of Responsibility in Feeding, is it gives parents and children very specific jobs in the realm of feeding. Parents are in charge of deciding what is served at meal time, when meals occur and where. Children get to be in charge of choosing what to eat and how much from what is offered to them.

So when my children complain about what I make for them, I always remind them that they can choose not to eat it. And I make sure to include at least one or two items they are likely to accept. This gives them some control, melts away the tension, and makes them more likely to try it....

This strategy puts more onus on the parents to make sure all the food offerings are nutritious:  if the meal on the table includes chips and soda, a strategy of letting your children decide what and how much to eat from the offerings appears a lot less wise.  Nor would I include anything not part of the family meal among the offerings, i.e. no chicken nuggets when the rest of the family is eating chicken tikka.  But letting them choose proportions (including nothing) from a good meal sounds like a reasonable strategy for giving children autonomy within secure boundaries.

I wonder:  if I had not been required to eat a portion of everything served, would I have learned to like vegetables sooner than I did?  Very early on I developed the tactic of swallowing my vegetable bites whole, with great gulps of water, like pills.  (Peas are particularly easy.)  My parents were willing to insist I eat the veggies, but would not go so far as to require me to chew and taste them.  If, instead, they had simply been offered as part of the meal, and I had observed my parents enjoying it all, might I not have tried them now and then, thus developing the taste for certain foods that eluded me until later in life?  I'll never know, but I like this strategy better.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 7:25 am | Edit
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Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, February 7, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Edit
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Publix, our local grocery store, often has tasting centers set up throughout the store.  Of course they are meant to encourage you to buy the product; sometimes I do, mostly I don't.  But I love the tastes, especially when it involves the sushi department.  :)

One of the stations usually involves not just a single product, but a whole meal or main dish prepared before your eyes (if you want to stick around and watch, which I usually don't).  These are almost always delicious, and every once in a while I can't resist picking up the ingredients to make it myself.  So it was one day last week.

Does Chicken over Warm Kale and Asparagus Salad sound good to you?  I can't say it did to me, but that's the advantage of these stations:  I tasted it.  I'm including the recipe below, at least as much for myself as for anyone else.  On the other hand, as far as I'm concerned recipes are merely suggestions, so here are some of the changes I made, or might make next time.  There will be a next time.  It was so good each of us ate more than the 1/4 recipe portion size recommended, and I could have eaten a lot more. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 11:12 am | Edit
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It's times like this I am so happy to be neither Jewish, Muslim, nor Theonomist.  We had pulled pork for dinner the other night and it was so, so, so, so good!  We've been eating the leftovers ever since.  I can't believe it took me this long to discover that I could make this dish myself.  So easy!  My apologies to our kids for depriving them of delicious pulled pork throughout their childhoods.  What kind of a Southerner am I, anyway?

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Ingredients

         pork roast that will fit in your crock pot (butt or shoulder; these shred better)
     1  onion, chopped
         barbecue-ish spices for rub
   1½  cups liquid, approximately (e.g. a bottle of hard cider, beer, water, juice)
         barbecue sauce (Jack Daniels No. 7 Original or your favorite)
         hamburger buns, lightly toasted

Directions

The day before  Rub roast well, all over, with lots of spices.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning  Place chopped onions in the bottom of a crock pot.  Add the roast and liquid.  Cook on low 8 - 10 hours or on high 4 - 5 hours.

Remove meat from pot.  Pour and reserve any excess liquid.  The meat may have shredded itself by now; if not, shred using two forks, and return to pot.  Add some barbecue sauce for flavor.  Some of the reserved liquid can be added back if the pork is too dry and you don’t want to add more sauce.

Serve on hamburger buns, with more barbecue sauce on the side if desired.

(Cobbled together and modified from several pulled pork recipes online.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Edit
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Asian buffet restaurants are kind of like IHOP as far as I'm concerned:  you need to go there every few years to remind yourself of why you don't go there more often.  The idea always sounds so good ... and the reality always disappoints.

We had a coupon for the new World Gourmet restaurant in town, so we went there after church on Sunday.  (The link is to the one in California, but it looks like the same thing.)  You can't say they don't have variety:  I wouldn't go so far as to say world, but there was what I'd call standard American fare in addition to the Asian food.  But as usual, the quality just wasn't there, nor can you expect it with all that quantity and variety.

Still, the selection was nice, the honey chicken was especially good, and—when I made a point to be the first one in line when the new batch came out—so were the French fries.  Whenever I'm in a place like that, I think of a football-playing friend of Heather's in high school:  he could really have done it all justice.  Me?  I took what I liked, and for once didn't eat too much.  Someone has to make up for the football players.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, June 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Edit
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altCooked:  A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan (Penguin, 2013)

(This is a long post, with many excerpts from the book.  Consider it an appetizer.)

I almost always start writing reviews in my mind before finishing the book.  I'd planned to begin this one with, "I've never met a Michael Pollan book I didn't love.  Having made my way through the 468 pages, I can still say that with honesty, though honesty also compels me to admit the last quarter of the book was somewhat of a trial.

For all his interest in food, Pollan hadn't given cooking much thought.

Until, that is, I began trying to unpack a curious paradox I had noticed while watching television, which was simply this:  How is it that at the precise historical moment when Americans were abandoning the kitchen, handing over the preparation of most of our meals to the food industry, we began spending so much of our time thinking about food and watching other people cook it on television?  The less cooking we were doing in our own lives, it seemed, the more that food and its vicarious preparation transfixed us.

I see this less as a paradox and more as a repeated pattern:  the less we commit to and invest of ourselves in the heart and meaning of something, the more we extravagantly value the form, and set others to doing it for us.  When the marriage itself was the raison d'être of a wedding, a reception created and overseen by "women of the church" was sufficient to honor the couple and the guests.  Now we have devalued the marriage vows and it's the reception, professionally catered, decorated, and orchestrated, into which the time, money, and attention are poured.  The less we make music ourselves, in our families and communities, the more we value the concert tickets, recordings, and iPods that bring the work of the professional musician into our lives.  How many sports fans, ever-ready to critique the missed basket, the dropped ball, the faulty kick, get any closer to a real game than driving their children to practice?

But I digress.  What Pollan did was to get serious about cooking for himself and his family.

[The decline of home cooking] is a problem—for the health of our bodies, our families, our communities, and our land, but also for our sense of how our eating connects us to the world.  Our growing distance from any direct, physical engagement with the processes by which the raw stuff of nature gets transformed into a cooked meal is changing our understanding of what food is.  Indeed, the idea that food has any connection to nature or human work or imagination is hard to credit when it arrives in a neat package, fully formed.  Food becomes just another commodity, an abstraction.  And as soon as that happens we become easy prey for corporations selling synthetic versions of the real thing—what I call edible foodlike substances.  We end up trying to nourish ourselves on images.

It has been argued that it is more efficient to work an extra hour at the office, doing what we do well, and let restaurants do what they do best.

Here in a nutshell is the classic argument for the division of labor, which, as Adam Smith and countless others have pointed out, has given us many of the blessings of civilization.  It is what allows me to make a living sitting at this screen writing, while others grow my food, sew my clothes, and supply the energy that lights and heats my house.  I can probably earn more in an hour of writing or even teaching than I could save in a whole week of cooking.  Specialization is undeniably a powerful social and economic force.  And yet it is also debilitating.  It breeds helplessness, dependence, and ignorance and, eventually, it undermines any sense of responsibility.

Pollan divides his cooking adventures, cleverly and classically, into Fire, Water, Air, and Earth.  Fire is a dissertation into the earliest and most primitive cooking method:  meat over flame.  Along the way he explores the "cooking hypothesis," a recent theory that attempts to explain the development of Homo erectus, "the first primate to bear a stronger resemblance to humans than apes."

Anthropologists have long theorized that the advent of meat eating could account for the growth in the size of the primate brain, since the flesh of animals contains more energy than plant matter.  But ... the alimentary and digestive apparatus of Homo erectus is poorly adapted to a diet of raw meat, and even more poorly adapted to the raw plant foods that would still have been an important part of its diet, since a primate cannot live on meat alone.  The chewing and digestion of raw food of any kind requires a big gut and big strong jaws and teeth—all tools that our ancestors had lost right around the time they acquired their bigger brains.

The control of fire and discovery of cooking best explain both these developments. ... Appliying the heat of a fire to food transforms it in several ways—some of them chemical, others physical—but all with the same result:  making more energy available to the creatures that eat it. ... [C]ooking opened up vast new horizons of edibility for our ancestors, giving them an important competitive edge over other species and, not insignificantly, leaving us more time to do things besides looking for food and chewing it. ... [Anthropologist Richard Wrangham] estimates that cooking our food gives our species an extra four hours a day.  (This happens to be roughly the same amount of time we now devote to watching television.)

By freeing us from the need to feed constantly, cooking ennobled us, putting us on the path to philosophy and music.  All those myths that trace the godlike powers of the human mind to a divine gift or theft of fire may contain a larger truth than we ever realized.

Yet having crossed this Rubicon, trading away a big gut for a big brain, we can't go back, as much as raw-food faddists would like to. ... By now, "humans are adapted to eating cooked food in the same essential way as cows are adapted to eating grass," Wrangham says.

Pollan discusses animal sacrifice, and why fire-cooked meat-eating grew up as a sacred act, hedged in by a multitude of rules and governed by a priestly class.  From there he moves naturally to the modern barbecue, which retains obvious vestiges of those ancient cultures.  I dare you (unless you happen to be a diehard vegetarian) to read this section of the book without your mouth watering.  For the record, "authentic barbecue" has nothing to do with what you do when you slap a steak on your gas grill.  It is pork, pork alone, and preferably the whole pig, cooked with as many rules as any ancient sacrifice.  It's a pity I didn't know anything about barbecue culture when my in-laws lived in South Carolina! (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 31, 2013 at 8:24 am | Edit
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altMake the Bread, Buy the Butter:  What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch—Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods by Jennifer Reese (Free Press, 2011)

In 2008, like many people, Jennifer Reese lost her job.  I don't know what that job was, but if it didn't involve writing, losing it was not a tragedy, but a blessing.  She's a wonderful writer:  clear, informative, and funny.  Definitely funny.

Faced with the opportunity to reconsider her life, Reese decided to focus on food, and the modern tension between do-it-yourself and buy-it-off-the-shelf:

Where is that sweet spot between buying and making?  What does the market do cheaper and better?  And where are we being deceived, our tastes and habits and standards corrupted?  Could I answer this question once and for all?  I didn't want an answer rooted in ideology, or politics, or tradition, or received wisdom.  I wanted to see the question answered empirically, taking into account the competing demands—time and meaning, quality and conscience, budget and health—of everyday American family life.

And so, over the next months and years, I got some chickens, which I loved; and some ducks, which I loathed; and some turkeys, which we slaughtered.  I learned to make cheese and keep bees and worried that the neighbors were going to call Animal Control.  I cured bacon and salmon, canned ketchup, baked croissants, and made vanilla extract and graham crackers.  I planted tomatillos and potatoes and melons and squash.  My son, Owen, joined 4-H and practically moved into the yard, while my teenage daughter, Isabel, refused to step outside the back door at all, especially after the goats turned up.  My husband, Mark, rolled his eyes at all of it except the homemade yogurt.  That, he ate by the quart.  At the height—or maybe it was the depths—of my homemaking experiment, I had pickles lacto-fermenting on the counter and seven varieties of jam, ranging from banana-chocolate to plum, arrayed in the pantry, and absinthe and Taleggio cheese mellowing in the crawl space behind my closet.  I was overwhelmed and a bit of a mess, but I had my answers.

Turkeys?  Homemade bacon?  This was no simple save-money-by-making-my-child's-school-lunch project.  But the results make for marvellous reading.  It's a treasure trove of recipes, too, and I would be tempted to add a copy to my collection, if I weren't busy trying to get rid of a vast collection of cookbooks gathering dust on the shelves because when I need a recipe and it's not handy, I immediately turn to Chef Google.

The answer to the question that drove me to reading the book, Why not make the butter? is a simple matter of economy.  Making butter is easy, and the result delicious, but cream is expensive.  Store butter is good enough that the author can't justify the extra expense of homemade.  "Unless," she adds, "you have a cow."

Reese might have chosen a different title:  Make the Bun, Buy the Hot Dog.  What she went through to make hot dogs leaves me all the more glad that Oscar Mayer now has a nitrate/nitrite-free hot dog that is delicious.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter is much more than a recipe book.  For each entry, you get a story (often funny), a recipe, a difficulty rating, a cost comparison, and a "make it or buy it" recommendation.  Sometimes the answer is "both."  There's nothing like homemade mayonnaise, for example, but "Hellmann's has its place."

Maybe my favorite quote:

"Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself," Michael Pollan writes in Food Rules. ... "Chances are good it won't be every day."

Oh Michael Pollan, you underestimate me.

Finally, a longish quote from the Afterward, which sums things up well:

It's empowering to know I can cure bacon, brew vanilla, age Camembert, extract honey from a hive, and behead a chicken, even if I have no desire to do at least one of those things ever again.  Even if, in the end, I spent more money than I saved.  (A few costly projects like the chickens and the bees ate up all the savings of from scratch cooking.)  Big food companies flatter us by telling us how busy we are and they simultaneously convince us that we are helpless.  I am moderately busy, but not all that helpless.  Neither are you.  Everything I did in the course of my scratch-cooking era—with the possible exceptions of eviscerating poultry and stuffing hot dogs—was very, very easy.  [She must have blocked out the experience of making croissants:  "unbelievable hassle," though she still recommends making them, unless you live near a good French bakery.]

But the more helpless we feel, the lower those food companies move the bar of our expectations, and the bar is now very low at your local supermarket.  Trust me.  I have eaten my way through mine.  It makes me quite furious when I think about the sicketating powdered hollandaise sauce, the extortionate price of the vanilla extracts, the pathetic bread, the soups sweetened with corn syrup, the abomination of Pillsbury "creamy vanilla" canned frosting that contains neither cream nor vanilla.  It upsets me that we pay as much for these foods as we do.

Almost everything is better when it's homemade.  While this may have started out as opinion (though I'm not sure it did), I would now state it confidently as fact.  Almost everything.  But not everything.  Which makes me inordinately happy.  Because I think it's reassuring that you can walk into a supermarket and buy a bag of potato chips and a tub of rice pudding that are better than anything you can make at home.  I wish there were more foods like that.  I really don't want to spend my life standing over a stove, muttering about the evils of ConAgra and trans fats.  It seems a tragic waste to shape one's life around doctrinaire rejection of industrial food.  Which means, I suppose, both insisting on high standards most of the time and then, sometimes, relaxing them.

Jennifer Reese has a blog, The Tipsy Baker.  I haven't read much yet, but I'm sure I'll find it clear, informative, and funny.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 8:10 am | Edit
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Speculoos à Tartiner, in its American incarnation as Biscoff Spread, is now available at many stores here and around the country.  Trader Joe's even has its own version, which I will be able to sample and compare because we are finally getting our own Trader Joe's!  You can even buy Speculoos in tiny Hillsborough, New Hampshire—which also needs a Trader Joe's, but we'll take one step at a time.

The exploding popularity of this heavenly spread was featured in the Orlando Sentinel yesterday.  I don't know what goes into the decisions involving placement of articles and advertisements on the page, but surely this could be no coincidence:

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On the bright side, all this publicity may dampen the TSA's suspicious attitude, although there is now less reason to transport it in my luggage.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 8:24 am | Edit
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