Archive for May, 2013

Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Book Review for a MOFGA Audience

Michael Pollan’s, Omnivore’s Dilemma, a Natural History of Four Meals gives an investigative look into the problems of the American food system that have decreased the quality of our food in the past seventy years. From conventional farming methods to organic methods Pollan tells the story of his experiences with farmers big and small across the country. The first section titled ‘Industrial Corn’ exposes the mind-blowing truth of mass-produced food from the farmer to the supermarket shelf. The second section of Pollan’s book takes a look at the up and coming organic industry by spending time with large-scale organic operations. In this part of the book Pollan points out how disconnected our ‘industrial’ society is to their food. Also, he questions if large-scale organic operations- like a chicken farm that claims ‘Free Range’, but still most of the chicken’s life is spent in a facility- are any better than conventional farms. The third section of the book called ‘The Forest’ takes an interesting yet unrealistic turn when Pollan decides to cook an entire meal from catching and foraging food himself from the forest. This is very possible, but even Michael admits it is very unpractical in this day and age. The ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma’ was written quite well, the style of writing and boldness of the author’s tongue makes this book effective and noteworthy in all aspects. The introduction and first chapter really intrigue the reader and makes you want more:

“Read the ingredients on the label of any processed food and, provided you know the chemical names it travels under, corn is what you will find. For modified or unmodified starch, for glucose syrup and maltodextrin, for crystalline fructose and ascorbic acid, for lecithin and dextrose, lactic acid and lysine, for maltose and HFCS, for MSG and polyols, for the caramel color and xanthan gum, read: corn. Corn is in the coffee whitener and Cheez Whiz, the frozen yogurt and TV dinner, the canned fruit and ketchup and candies, the soups and snacks and cake mixes, the frosting and gravy and frozen waffles, the syrups and hot sauces, the mayonnaise and mustard, the hot dogs and bologna, the margarine and shortening, the salad dressings and the relishes and even the vitamins.”

No part of the book seems biased; as an investigative journalist, Pollan is welcomed into each farm he visits and he enters with a levelheaded. The book was both effective and persuasive. The effectiveness of the personal stories from farmers and facts provided by Pollan is persuasive enough to change the reader’s way he or she views our food system here in America. This book has enhanced my knowledge not of conventional farming, but of commercial organic farming. As an agricultural major I always thought no matter what scale organic is on it will always be better than conventional. After reading this book I am not so sure. In our society the word ‘organic’ has many definitions, but none of them are true at least by our society’s definition. For example, the whole point of being ‘organic’ is to be small-scale. An industrial organic farm is like an oxymoron to me, in order to be truly organic you cannot operate at a large-scale, because then you might as well switch over to conventional. This book opened my eyes wider to our food system and allowed me to see the bigger picture rather than just blaming the conventional side of things. For the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) book store this book is essential to the shelves of this store. The ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma’ would be much appreciated by any or all who the MOFGA bookstore.

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Eggs in a Nest? No! Eggs is a Hamburg Nest!

This recipe I stumbled upon last summer when searching for something to make for dinner that wasn’t the ‘same old, same old’. I’m glad I stumbled upon this recipe for many reasons, but the main one being its easy to make and incredibly delicious. I encourage all to try out eggs in a hamburg nest. 

Ingredients 

Eggs – $1.95

Hamburger Rolls – $2.00

Cabot White Cheddar Slices – $2.59

Ground Beef – $6.55

1 Large Tomato – $1.04

Total – $14.13

Directions

1. Heat skillet to medium heat. 

2.While stove is heating make hamburg patties and cut a yolk sized hole out of the patty. 

3. Place hamburg patty in pan and crack egg in center hole.

4. Wait until has whitened on the bottom and then flip very carefully. 

5. Once flipped place cheese over and when  melted serve. 

Pictures

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Comments 

These hamburgers were really hard to cook without a spatula. I don’t recommend trying either, although each burger was successful  it still was a challenge. I flipped each burger with a fork and a very odd utensil that had been lying around the house unused. While I was shopping for the ingredients I discovered Cabot White Cheddar Slices, not your typical sliced and packaged cheese. Instead it was delicious, each slice was thick and actually tasted like cheese. I recommend purchasing this cheese, especially when making hamburgers, of any kind. It makes each bite a small piece of heaven. Oh! and don’t forget the tomato!

Homemade Alfredo Sauce over Egg Noodles and Chicken

I’m not sure what made me want to recreate Alfredo sauce, homemade even, but I did.  Overall, this dish came out well, it was very tasty, but not what I was expecting. This time I did not follow any recipe, I simply went to the grocery store, brainstormed the idea, read the back of a can of Alfredo, and bought the ingredients. Having no idea how to cook something from scratch was an interesting feeling of slight panic.

Ingredients

(Purchased from Edward’s Shop N’ Save)

Flour- (Already had at the house)

Butter- $2.49 (1 lb.)

Half and Half cream- $1.59

Sherry Cooking Wine- $3.69

8 ounces Cabot Sharp Cheddar Cheese- $2.89

8 ounces of Italian blend Cheese- $2.89

Egg noodles $3.89

Boneless Chicken Thighs- $ 5.00

Total- $22.17

Directions

1. Start Roux in skillet; melt butter at medium/low heat then add flour and whisk until thick.

2. Add half and half and sherry wine. Let cook for about 10-15 minutes on low heat, uncovered.

3. Bring water to a boil for egg noodles. After sauce has cooked add cheese. Let the cheese melt, but not burn over low heat!

4. Add egg noodles to boiling water. Let boil for only about 5 minutes. Drain and add Alfredo sauce. Mix, cover, and set aside.

5. Fry boneless chicken thighs over medium heat until done.

6. Once chicken is fully cooked, cut chunks into bite-size pieces and add to pasta and sauce.

7. Serve and enjoy!

Pictures

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Comments

I love cooking with wine! I discovered that I actually preformed a reduction when cooking this Alfredo sauce. A reduction with alcohol is when you add alcohol like beer or wine, in this case sherry wine, to a sauce and let the sauce boil. Then, the alcohol cooks off the dish leaving just the flavor. Everything came out delicious, the chicken, sauce, noodles, and I even added a fresh salad, but I got a little over zealous and added way too much cheese. So much cheese in fact my Alfredo sauce turned into Alfredo mac and cheese! So, next time I attempt to make homemade Alfredo sauce I’ll remember to not add so much cheese despite my intense love for it.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Bacon!

Panera Bread, the restaurant, has inspired this recipe for tonight’s dinner and if you have not gone to Panera Bread and tried their broccoli cheddar soup I highly suggest it! Instead of keeping this dish true to the recipe, I have decided to add bacon! This will be my first time making a soup from scratch. To start the base of the creamy broth I will attempt to make a roux. A roux is used for many different things like making gravy and sauces. Basically, it is a mixture of flour and fat, like butter or oil. So, here it goes!

Ingredients  

(Purchased from Edwards Shop N’ Save)

Butter- $(Didn’t purchase butter, used grease from the bacon instead)

Flour- $ ( Already had Flour)

2 Cups of Half and Half cream $1.59

2 Cups Chicken Stock $2.89

1 Onion- $2.49/lb.

1/2 lb. Broccoli- $2.99

1 cup of Carrot Shredded- $1.29

1 lb. Bacon- $3.49

1/4 Teaspoon of Nutmeg- $ (Didn’t not or purchase, just let out. Spices are too expensive)

8 ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese- $2.89

Salt and Pepper- $(Already have at the house)

Total- $17.63

Directions 

1. Saute onions and bacon in skillet until cooked.

2. Remove from heat and let cool. Place pot on stove make roux by heating bacon fat, add flour and whisk for 3-5 minutes over medium heat.  Then, add half and half  and continually stir.

3. Add chicken stock and turn heat to low and let sit for 20 minutes.

3. Add Bacon, Broccoli, Onion, carrot, and cook at low to medium heat for another 20 minutes.

4. Lastly, stir in cheese, pepper, and wella!

Pictures

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Comments

When making the broth, I can’t lie, I was scared. I did what the directions said, but it started to get chunky! I thought I had already failed at making my first soup. My roommate reassured me that I was doing just fine, “Keep following the directions, keep steering, and turn the heat up a little,” he said. So, I trusted him and listed. Finally, the moment came to add the chicken broth- the recipe called for two cups- instead I added four. After the twenty minutes of impatiently waiting for the broth to cook; I opened the lid, steered it around, and it wasn’t chunky anymore! Phew! Next, I added in chopped broccoli, shredded carrots, sautéed onions, and cooked bacon chunks. Lastly, added the cheese and pepper then served it …let me tell you! Wow! Was it good, I don’t know if it was the bacon fat or the Cabot Sharp Cheddar Cheese, but it was delicious!