Tuesday, March 31, 2009
In a nutshell: the fancy white-linen dinner party is taken outside and served up with only locally grown items, with renowned local guest chefs taking charge at each dinner location across the country.
The dinner also includes wine and a tour of the farm or winery where the dinner is taking place. Dinner is served family style, and be warned- though the website states they can sometimes accommodate vegetarians, "this is not an appropriate event for vegans or other persons with dietary restrictions, such as food allergies."
That being said, this still sounds worth checking out as long as there's some vegetarian grub being served! Check the website for more info and how to make reservations- Outstanding in the Field will be in the New York area on August 25th (EECO Farm, East Hampton) and August 26th and 27th at Queens Farm in my fave borough.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Ah, I miss the West Coast already. At least the NYC weather will warm up soon and present some fun al fresco dining opportunities!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Another cool foodie event to check out this weekend: the biannual James Beard Foundation Cookbook Sale this Saturday from 10am to 1pm at the James Beard House on W. 12th Street. With free admission and titles for as little as $5, take an hour and browse for some veg titles, or at least some books where you can do your own recipe adapting!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Be sure to check out the Win Animal Rights table in Soho and an NYU-based public vegetarian work lunch in Washington Square Park. Think you'll miss meat too much? I'll be posting a list of 5 quick, easy, mock-meat based lunches that'll make you think twice before hitting your local deli counter or sandwich shop.
Meatout, like a blackout, but way tastier!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
10 Vegetable Seed Providers
Where to buy exotic, heirloom, and regional vegetable seeds for your home garden
By Roxanne Webber
1. Fedco Seeds. This Maine-based cooperative specializes in cold-hardy plants for the northeast climate. The company will replace anything you’re not satisfied with, or give you a refund for it. Place orders online through August 31.
2. Territorial Seed Company. Territorial has a research gardening staff that tests seeds to see how well they’ll do in the Northwest, how tasty the vegetables are, and how well the seeds germinate. It offers a replace-or-refund guarantee and will answer gardening questions via telephone.
3. Pinetree Garden Seeds. Pinetree sells packages of seeds that are smaller than many other companies’, so it’s easy to experiment without being stuck with a bunch of leftovers. In addition to the more common varieties, it offers a selection of seeds for Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American vegetables such as Egyptian fava beans, shiso, and Thai peppers. Everything comes with a replace-or-refund guarantee.
4. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Missouri-based Baker Creek sells only “non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated, and non-patented” seeds, and specializes in rare and heirloom varieties. Its catalog is full of exotic vegetables: tiny Thai eggplants that look like green peas, Tigger melons with bright red and orange stripes, ugly wart-covered winter squash with amazing bright orange flesh, and pages of tomatoes organized by color.
5. High Altitude Gardens. High Altitude is a 21-year-old family-owned business based out of Arizona that specializes in varieties that do well in the cold, short seasons found in elevated regions (it has test gardens at 6,000 feet). There isn’t a ton of variety in its catalog, but you’ll know you’re buying seeds that work where you live—if you live up high.
6. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. This company in Virginia carries a smallish selection of heirloom vegetables that do well in the mid-Atlantic region. Interesting varieties include burgundy okra and heirloom peanuts.
7. Hudson Valley Seed Library. A cool project we learned about from the Slow Food USA blog, the Hudson Valley Seed Library aims to create a local seed supply for its area, and to sell exclusively local seeds by 2014. Check out the 13 different seed options in cool packages designed by local artists, or browse the nonlocal heirloom varieties.
8. University of Hawaii Seed Program. The university’s seeds are on the expensive side, but the cost might be worth it to know you’re getting varieties tested for the Hawaiian climate. Hippies look elsewhere: The focus is definitely more scientific than back-to-the-land.
9. Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Johnny’s has a large selection of vegetable seeds, some heirloom, some organic. The company is employee-owned and offers a full refund-or-replace guarantee on its seeds.
10. Seed Savers Exchange. Maybe the most well known of the heritage seed companies, Seed Savers is a nonprofit organization that operates the largest nongovernmental seed bank in the United States. It sells heirloom vegetable seeds to nonmembers, but if you join you gain access to an additional 12,000 varieties. It also provides instructions on how to save your own seeds.
Seriously?? Though it's probably been running for months now, this is the first that this non-TV watcher has seen of it, and I'm pissed!This is even worse than the old milk advertisements that claimed dairy promotes weight loss. Check out the HFCS ads here. Featuring some idiot who warns, "Well, you know what they say about it..." and then the idiot is unable to explain why HFCS is so awful, while another actor explains that HFCS is natural, made from corn, and like table sugar, is okay in moderation.
Too bad the commericial doesn't mention the fact that because HFCS is added to everything from cereals to juice and of course anything processed to make it taste sweeter, there's absolutely no way to consume HFCS in moderation if you eat the typical American diet. And just because it comes from corn, HFCS goes through so much processing that it should not be labeled as natural, or close to it.
I'm so disgusted that this is on the air... thank Corn Refiners for trying to justify America's obesity problem.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
by Tom Philpot
Imagine Norman Bates, twisted hero of Hitchcock's Psycho, stumbling into a funhouse of mirrors and finding Mother at the center, her image reflected on a thousand surfaces surrounding him. He might freak out, right?
That's a bit how I feel when I walk into Carrboro Beverage Co., a small and extremely well-stocked beer store in Carrboro, N.C. The walls and cooler displays form a veritable crazy-quilt of craft beers from around the world -- but mostly from the United States, which has become the global leader in artisanal brewing.
I usually have to make myself steer clear of the place -- too many temptations for someone short on time and cash. But when my merciless editor demanded to know when precisely I planned to turn in my third organic-beer-tasting article, I knew whom to call to set up a hasty tasting.
Jason Cole, manager of Carrboro Beverage and a walking beer encyclopedia, solved all that for me. Unlike a supermarket buyer, Jason doesn't have to ration precious shelf space to please mass tastes. His market is beer nerds, so he can go out of his way to way to find and stock interesting stuff. Jason procured no fewer than 11 organic craft brews for me -- only three of which we'd tasted before here at the Bottom Line beer department. To round out the dozen, I scored a truly unique Belgian spelt beer from my friends over at Chapel Hill's 3 Cups, a frequent host for Bottom Line tastings.
Jason presided over a panel that included me; Chapel Hill metalworker Leo Gaev; Matt Souza of 3 Cups; Bernard Luscans, a professor of French at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Julia Thompson, who works with Jason at Carrboro Beverage. As always, the tasting was conducted blind. I asked everyone to describe appearance, aroma, flavor, and finish, and then to rank their three or four favorites in order of preference. Here's what we found.
Neumarkter Lammsbrau, Neumarkt, Germany
Price: $1.90/12 oz.
Eco-claim: The world's largest certified organic craft brewery
This "medium gold, slightly opaque" beer pleased but didn't wow the panel. I found it well made, with mild yeasty notes and a lightly, creamy mouthfeel. Matt picked up wheat, citrus, and floral notes on the nose, and hints of lemon on the palate. Leo found iron, and Bernard got apple flavors.
Joseph Spelt Ale
This one fared well, tying for third place. It showed cloudy and honey-gold in the glass. On the nose, Matt found hints of apple, fermented cider, and earth; Bernard picked up malt and rubber. I found it round and lightly sweet on the palate, balanced with a deft dash of hops on the finish. I also appreciated what I found to be a surprisingly creamy and substantial mouthfeel for a light-colored beer. Matt, its biggest fan, praised "its excellent nutty finish." Julia was a holdout -- she found its aroma "skunky."
Samuel Smith Organic Lager
Samuel Smith Brewery, Yorkshire, England
Price: $2.79/12 oz.
Eco-claim: Certified organic by the USDA-accredited UK Soil Association
Black Mountain Bitter
Highland Brewing Company, Asheville, N.C.
Price: $1.90/12 oz.
Eco-claim: Certified organic through Clemson University
Another strong contender that didn't quite make the top three among stiff competition. Leo found "musty leaves" and "crisp fruit" on the nose, giving way to acorns on the palate. Matt found it well-made -- a "rich-roasted flavor" with a "well-balanced bitterness." I liked its beer-hall yeasty scent; Bernard praised its almondy palate.
Wildfire Extra Pale Ale
Uinta Brewing Co., Salt Lake City, Utah
Price: $1.90/12 oz.
Eco-claim: Wildfire is USDA-certified; brewery is 100 percent wind-powered
This "bright-gold" beer, which placed second, sent the panel on rhetorical flights to describe its qualities -- a kind of Rorschach blot in a glass. Bernard, who ranked it number-one, found a violet on the nose and straw on the palate. Julia praised its citrusy grapefruit notes. Matt rhapsodized "apricot, flower, raw walnut" nose, which gave way to "pear, fermented cider, and malt" on the palate, with a "very light bitter finish." I found it so fruity that I wondered if it might be (very subtly) flavored with fruit (it's not). I found strawberry on the nose, and raspberry on the palate, balanced by a lovely burst of hops. Leo found grass and seaweed on the nose (in a good way; he ranked it second) and apricots on the palate. Overall, a unique and appealing beer.
St Peter's English Ale
St. Peter's Brewery, Suffolk, England
Eco-claim: Uses ingredients certified by the Soil Association
This beer, which we also tasted last spring, pleased everyone but couldn't crack the top three. At this point, the tasting began to pivot in a darker direction -- Leo described this offering as almond-colored; I called it rich amber. Matt found it had a slightly oxidated, sake-like aroma, turning "very rich" on the palate, with some butter flavors. I found it very dry, but with a paradoxically honey flavor -- a kind of earthy, wildflower thing. Julia, too, found honey, but judged it "not super-complex." Bernard found an apple scent, with mineral flavors.
This dark, milk-chocolate-colored beer showed solidly. I found it to be the first "big" beer in the lineup -- dried stone-fruit, prunelike flavors and a light-cream mouthfeel. Matt was probably its biggest champion, picking up aromas of brown sugar and maple, with a "bright orange," "rich and fruity" flavor. Leo thought it might be slightly off, with an uncomfortable aroma of "plastic."
Neumarkter Lammsbrau, Neumarkt, Germany
Price: $1.90/12 oz.
Eco-claim: The world's largest certified organic craft brewery
This, the dark version of the Lammsbrau Pilsner above, got plenty of love but didn't quite place. Julia liked it best, declaring it "damn tasty." Bernard picked up soy sauce on the nose and caramel notes on the palate. Matt judged it "subtle but complex," with brown-sugar scents and lemon, honey, and brown sugar on the palate. I found it full-bodied, with a caramel nose and rich citrus notes on the palate; Leo likened the aroma to oatmeal.
Eel River IPA
Again, in this lineup, a beer can draw plenty of praise and still not ascend to the top three. Matt ranked this light-brown beer among his favorites, calling it "very expressive." He found clover honey and roasty malts on the nose, with apricot, hazelnut, and soy sauce on the tongue. Leo joined Matt in picking up soy sauce notes; he also found kumquat. Julia correctly identified it as an IPA, but found it "a little soapy." I picked up fruity, funky (in a good way) flavors on the nose, with some chocolate on the palate and a fine hoppy finish.
Cru D'Or Belgian Style Ale
North Coast Brewing Co., Fort Bragg, Calif.
Price: $2.79/12 oz.
Eco-claim: Certified organic by Oregon Tilth
This has earned a spot in the Bottom Line Hall of Fame; it's the only beer that's been featured in all three of our tastings. It took top honors in our first tasting -- and landed first in this one too. (Oddly, it didn't do nearly as well in our second tasting.) Even its color inspired poetry; Leo was moved to call it "dark and stormy." He praised its "cave-like, sweet aroma," and found fruit tones giving way to chocolate on the palate. I loved its deep, citrusy, maraschino-cherry nose and citrus-butterscotch flavor. Bernard picked up Scotch-like aromas and bitter-almond flavors. Matt had an odd reading -- he found it very rich, with a roasted nut flavor, but also found vegetal (beans, field peas) tones. Julia correctly identified it as Belgian-style, and ranked it number two.
Eel River Raven's Eye Imperial Stout
This jet-black beer tied for third place. I ranked it tops, finding it a big beer suitable for sipping after a nice dinner. It offered a deep, Port-wine like grapiness on the nose and a rich, round, estery-chocolatey flavor. It made Leo think of the sea; he found a mossy quality. Matt found it "buttery and rich," with a good, full body and a complex, nutty finish." Bernard got a sweet, dried-apricot nose and caramel on the palate.
Eel River Triple Exultation Old Ale
This one showed light-reddish brown. Matt was its biggest admirer, finding molasses aromas and "zesty orange," vanilla, and "very nutty almond" flavors. I liked it, too, picking up a similar profile to Matt, with back-pepper notes thrown in. Leo was not impressed: "subtle dirt" aroma and "neither here nor there" flavor.
The Bottom Line
I found this tasting extremely encouraging: a kind of coming-of-age party for organic beer. Organic-minded beer lovers can now find classic European beers like the ones from Lammsbrau and Samuel Smith, as well as unique and experimental ones like the Joseph Spelt and the Eel River extreme beers. It's heartening to see Cru D'Or take the top prize again, living up to its name.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Seems silly, because the ALA type of omega-3 fatty acid in flaxseed can actually be used by the body to produce the two types of acids found in fish oil, EPA and DHA (though this is more so the case in women than it is in men). And if you really want your DHA, manufacturers can also utilize algae oil to make a suitable vegan substitute.
Though vegans & vegetarians by default have been trained to read labels anyway, it's good to be reminded that everything needs a closer look. I personally will be avoiding Tropicana, thankyouverymuch.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Tuesday March 10th- Green Drinks- 6:30pm at 230 Fifth, $10. Network and party with like-minded green New Yorkers! Hey, with the economic situation the way it is, can you afford to not network?
Wednesday March 18th- The Green Salon- 5:30pm to 8pm at Klavierhaus, 211 W. 58th Street, $10. Organized by the Global Change Foundation, the Green Salon is a showcase of green artists & musicians and speakers, followed by a real discussion among the attendees. A cool way to mingle, be entertained, and learn about new eco issues!
Friday March 20th- Blinders screening- 7pm at Village East Cinemas, 181-189 2nd Avenue, $12. As part of the New York Film and Video Festival, this award winning documentary exposes the abuse in the horse-drawn carriage industry... this is a particular must-see for any New Yorker!
Monday March 23rd- Herbal Tinctures: An Introduction to Modern Powerful Potions- 7-8pm at Bowery Whole Foods Culinary Center, $15. The history and how-to's for creating and using your own herbal medicines from echinacea, goldenseal, and saw palmetto. You've always wanted to play herbalist, right?
Thursday March 26- Vegan Drinks- 7-9pm at Angels & Kings, 500 E. 11th Street. Drinking and mingling seems to be a common theme on this calendar... I don't mind though, and something tells me if you're reading this, you don't either :)
Friday, March 6, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
So the wild winter blizzard originally predicted at the beginning of the week didn't happen, but it's still nice to come home and warm up with a big pot of soup. Instead of making just an average pea soup, feed the fire and add some wasabi to the mix! There's no better way to warm up quickly... well, I suppose I could think of a few things, but in the interest of keeping things PG, I'll stick to the soup. If you like it really spicy, add a little extra wasabi to the individual soup bowls when you first serve it. You may not want to add it to the stock pot, because as I found out the next day, that wasabi heat sure does ignite after you let the flavors blend in the fridge for a few hours, even if it's just an extra teaspoon!
* 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 4 cloves garlic, halved
* 1 small onion, diced
* 1 1 lb. bag of frozen sweet peas
* 1 medium potato, diced
* 4 1/2 cups vegetable broth
* 2 bay leaves
* 3 tsp. wasabi powder
* 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
* black pepper to taste
1) Heat oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until caramelized, about 8 minutes.
2) Stir in peas, potato, and 1 tsp. wasabi powder to the pot; cook for 1 minute. Add vegetable broth and bay leaves to the stock pot. Bring a boil; reduce heat to a simmer, stir in an additional tsp. of wasabi powder and cook soup for 30 to 35 minutes, or until potatoes are softened.
3) Remove from heat and allow soup about 10 to 15 minutes to cool. Using a slotted spoon or sieve, set aside 1 cup of the peas and potatoes from the soup.
4) Transfer soup to a blender. Puree soup in blender for about 10 seconds or until smooth. Transfer soup from blender back into the stock pot. Add the reserved peas and potatoes, remaining wasabi powder, and the rice vinegar; cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
Serve hot with rice crackers or nori crackers.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Veggie burgers can be the comfort food of choice for vegetarians at a restaurant or diner. They can also be undercooked messes that fall apart, or bland patties straight from the freezer- as Forrest Gump would muse, you never really know what you're gonna get. And isn't that all the more reason to make your burgers yourself? Using canned organic black soy beans gives the burger some more substantiality than your average canned black beans, and sweet potatoes make these babies all the more flavorful and colorful! Don't you deserve a better burger?
* 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for frying veggie burgers
* 2 cans black soy beans, drained & rinsed
* 2 medium sweet potatoes
* 1 medium red onion, diced
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 tbsp. cumin
* 1 tbsp. sweet hungarian paprika
* 2 tsp. chopped cilantro leaves
* juice of 1/2 lime
* 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
* 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (you can also use spelt flour if you prefer!)
* salt & pepper to taste
1) Cut the sweet potato into large chunks. Place the sweet potatoes in a pot of boiling water, and allow potatoes to boil until completely cooked and soft. Remove skins from softened potatoes. Set aside.
2) Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Reserve 1/4 cup onions and set aside. Add remaining onions & garlic and cook until browned, about 5 or 6 minutes. Add the black soy beans to the pan. Mix in paprika, cumin, cilantro, red pepper and lime; cook for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until soft. Remove from heat and allow several minutes for beans to cool.
3) In a large mixing bowl, combine the sweet potatoes and soy bean mix. Using a potato masher, mash beans and potatoes well. Add salt & pepper and adjust seasonings. Add whole wheat flour to mashed ingredients and mix- it should have a consistency of a thick cake batter, you can add more as necessary. Form bean & potato mix into 8 burger patties.
4) Heat about 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Place two or three burgers in the pan at a time, and allow each side to cook for 5 or 6 minutes, until brown and crisp. Set aside and repeat until all veggie burgers cooked.
Serve on whole wheat burger buns or pita and guacamole or chipotle salsa.
Monday, March 2, 2009
The food industry is taking notice too. With NYC Restaurant Week being extended for another week (yep, that "bonus week" has been going on since the beginning of February) and foodies now shunning expensive pantry items, luxury magazines are now taking notice and catering to the new budget-minded shopper. Most people that read Gourmet magazine probably aren't the type that shop for groceries at their local Wal-Mart, but it's certainly interesting to watch big-name food publications compete for the frugal shopper's attention to make their sales. Read more about the new phenom here.
Maybe it's from growing up with the mindset that thrifty sure is nifty, but this need not be a difficult task for cooks- with expensive ingredients, a little can usually go a long way, and besides, if we're really as creative in the kitchen as we all claim to be, shouldn't we welcome the challenge?
Well, I'll giggle when I say that surely I can't argue with big trends, so I'll be posting an awesome veggie burger recipe shortly, which will feed 8 and do so with your budget in mind :)
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Sorry Kermit the Frog, it's super-easy being green! Or at least cooking greens. Sometimes you need only a minimal amount of ingredients to make the natural flavor of delicious cooked greens shine through. I took a hint from the Greek-Italian cooking traditions that my honey and I have at home- lots of garlic, a squeeze of lemon, and of course, good quality olive oil! Say it with me, Kali Orexi or Buon Appetito!
* 1 large bunch rainbow chard, rinsed & chopped, with water still clinging to the leaves
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 3 tbsp. olive oil
* 2 tbsp. lemon juice
* 1/2 tsp. white wine
* salt & pepper to taste
1) In a large pan, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add chopped chard to the pan by the handful; cook until slightly wilted before adding each successive handful of chard.
2) Add a tablespoon of water, and allow chard to cook for 5 minutes. Whisk together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, and white wine and add to the chard. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until liquid is almost gone and chard is wilted more, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in salt and pepper and serve hot.
And to get my Friendly Veg readers back into the loop, I'm passing along this awesome site that I got tipped off to- VitalJuice! In addition to all things vegetarian, I love shopping & going out and subsequently subscribe to cool email newsletters like Time Out New York, Thrillist, and Shop It To Me that'll keep me in the know- and the VitalJuice daily email lists do the same for all things health related in the city. You'll hear about health-related events, new workouts and natural beauty routines, check out recipes and eco-tips, and the spas and yoga studios worth checking out. I myself will try to score a reservation to Friday Night Dinners at the Natural Gourmet Institute that appeared in last week's VitalJuice!