Friday, November 26, 2010

health, happiness, food

"if you inhibit the body's pleasure, you provoke disease."

Yesterday I came across this article, The Case Against Health by Richard Klein. It is a fantastic look at food/eating/drinking philosophy, and how the current view of what's "healthy" in our country is actually quite unhealthy. Basically, we are so obsessed with all the numbers and the hype, that we are forgetting to live and be truly happy. People are eating all this stuff from boxes and cans that tout "low-fat" "low-calorie"... depriving themselves of food flavored with natural fats merely because "OMG FAT!! NO!" Yet, we are becoming a more fat and more unhappy country.

"In our time, it has become un-American to be Epicurean, to consider pleasure, even moderately indulged, to be the highest good. An old strain of American Puritanism to which Jefferson was immune, if not allergic, has become the new morality. Dressing itself up in the language of public health, this new morality views the least indulgence in adult pleasure as the sign of a nascent habit on the way to becoming a dangerous compulsion."

"In America, we have become strangely divorced from our bodies, counting calories on every product in the supermarket, watching blood pressure, measuring cholesterol, and sacrificing pleasure out of an excess of caution. These days we eat not for pleasure, but to lower our numbers. Yet we are one of the fattest nations in the world and growing every day more obese."

I celebrated the end of my 20's with this sandwich. Bread, cheese, chocolate. 3 of my favorite things. This was a very happy time for me, and this meal reflected that. I did not feel guilty about eating this sandwich at all. I'm not eating these every day for every meal. Special occasions should have special foods. It is good for you!

"Whenever anyone asked Julia Child to name her guilty pleasures, she responded, "I don't have any guilt." Epicureanism not only absolves us of guilt but says that our guilty pleasures might actually be keeping us healthy—mentally, physically, or both. "

Why do I have this food blog? Simple. Food makes me happy. You don't have to be gluttonous to be have a love affair with food... in fact, gluttony is the opposite of loving food. It is disrespectful to food and to your body. Respecting food, respecting yourself, means letting yourself do/eat what makes you happy. And happy = health. You dig?

Today is the day after Thanksgiving, so this post is also driven by warm thoughts of all the things I am grateful for. I have an AMAZING family and the best friends anyone could ask for. I love spending time with all of them. Sometimes these times revolve around food, sometimes they don't. I do have a special place in my heart for cooking & eating & drinking with my loved ones. Laughter, adventure, hugs, relaxation, venting. All stuff vital for a good life.

Drinking with friends. Fountain of Youth... I'm sure of it.

Neither or the article or I am saying to go out and eat only rich foods. Just don't try so hard to resist them. If you like something, eat it. But moderation is important. It shouldn't be hard. If you can shovel something down mindlessly without feeling full or satisfied, you probably are eating something with tons of preservatives and additives that make it addicting. If, rather you have a few very very pleasurable bites of something so flavorful, rich and gorgeous, you don't need much to keep you smiling all day.

I'm also a big advocate of home-cooking. I truly feel that if you are taking even a little bit of time to cook fresh food for yourself and your family, you are way better off than eating out all the time, even if you stick to the "lite" menu items. Cooking for people is so happy-making, also. Nourishing your loved ones, making them happy. It doesn't have to be a ton of work, either. I mean, it can be simple, or it can be a fun project that takes all day. (or days...)

"In The Physiology of Taste, the 19th-century Epicurean Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin writes: "When we eat, we receive a certain indefinable and peculiar impression of happiness originating in instinctive consciousness. When we eat, too, we repair our losses and prolong our lives." Pleasure may thus be a form of intelligence, an intuitive science as well as an art. "

Have fun with your food! Fun is so very important in health. Yeah, these tater tot tacos are not nutritionally healthful, but they made me immensely happy that one night, and the alternative was a depressing binge of just plain tater tots. Fun, aesthetics, adventure. Don't treat food as your enemy! Also? DANCE! :)

"Socrates believed in dancing every morning. We could do more for public health if the government spent a fraction of what it spends curbing smoking on promoting dancing."

I could ramble on and on about this... but I have some hedonism to attend to. So, In conclusion....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Yes yes, ANOTHER edamame post. What can I say, ever since I made these edamame burgers, I've had an idea. Hummus. See, hummus is made of a bean (chick pea), a nut (tahini, which is ground sesame seeds) and a couple of aromatics (garlic and lemon) blended together into a dippable paste. Edameme burgers had a very similar list of properties... beans (edamame), nuts (cashews), flavorings... all blended together. Basically, before I added the eggs and breadcrumbs which made the mix formable for hamburger patties, the edamame burgers were hummus. I decided to test this theory at a recent party. It was easy to make, and people really liked it!


-handful of cashew pieces
-12 oz. shelled edamame, cooked and cooled
-1 teaspoon sesame oil
-3 Tablespoon soy sauce
-3 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
-1 Tablespoon wasabi paste (I would use more next time... but this is an okay start to be safe)
-1 teaspoon powdered ginger (fresh ginger would be awesome, too)
-about 1/2 cup olive oil

Process the cashews in food processor until pulverized. Add edamame and process into a paste. Add sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, wasabi, and ginger, pulse to combine. Slowly add olive oil while processing until the edamummus reaches a consistency you like. Mine was pretty thick. Garnish with sesame seeds and dried Shiso, or your favorite furikake. Serve with rice crackers.

Related posts from the archive:
sushi ceviche
bacon & strawberry jam edamame
sesame edamame salad with almonds

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

roasted green tomato tart

What to do with a big bag of end-of-season green tomatoes? This was my dilemma. After them sitting on the counter for almost a week, with no free time to attempt canning them, I panicked and roasted most of them off in the oven. I cut them up into even sizes, rubbed them with olive oil, salt & pepper, and roasted them at 425ºF for about an hour, stirring a couple times, until they were pretty much obliterated into a sticky, thick sauce. I stuck them in the fridge and a couple nights later decided to attempt a simple tart with them. The roasting made the tart tomatoes significantly sweeter, but they still retained some sourness. I went with ricotta for the filling of the tart, the tomatoes as a topping, almost. Why ricotta? I guess I was inspired by lasagna. Anyway, it worked out well. I wish I could describe the taste of roasted green tomatoes better... it's a really unique flavor.

Roasted Green Tomato Ricotta Tart

-1 pie crust
-15 oz. whole milk ricotta
-2 garlic cloves, grated
-1 large egg
-a few chives, chopped fine
-1 1/2 cups roasted green tomatoes
-pine nuts
-Parmesan cheese
-salt and pepper

Line the bottom of a spring form pan with the pie crust, going up around the edges about 1 inch. Mix the ricotta, garlic, egg, chives, salt and pepper together and spread it over the pie crust. Spread the green tomato over the cheese mixture. Bake in a preheated 425ºF oven for about 45 minutes, sprinkling the top with pine nuts and Parmesan after about 30 minutes. Let set about 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

twistin' sisters

I don't have an actual recipe to share this week, though I have had a good food week. Last night I went to my FBM buddy Kelly's house for a girls' night of kvetching and cooking. We had decided to make pretzels and rarebit. Neither of us have ever made pretzels... in fact we both have a slight fear of yeast doughs. But together, we overcame that fear and turned out some darned tasty pretzels. So, I had nothing to do with the mixing of the dough. Due to scheduling, Kelly started the dough before I got there, but she assured me this was a simple task. While we waited for the dough to rise we drank beer, bitched, laughed, and made Chard gratin with some gorgeous chard I had gotten from Yellowtree Farm. I traded a bit of logo design work for food, you see. We also snacked on some Yellowtree radishes sprinkled with salt... a simple but amazing delight.

We used Alton Brown's pretzel recipe. It seemed traditional and well-tested. We also used Alton's recipe for the rarebit. Rarebit, in case you are not familiar, is a beer cheese sace. It is manna from the goddesses, really. Tangy, creamy, salty, cheesy. It's magic lava... put it on toast, fries, burgers, potatoes.... whatever tickles your pickle. Mmmm... pickle.

We made the pretzels half the size that the Alton recipe said to.... because they are cute, and you can eat more of them! :) The pretzels turned out sooo good. They tasted like soft pretzels, but more fresh and more buttery than what you'll find off a rotating sunlamp at the ballpark. Not as buttery as mall pretzels, though. And the rarebit? I mean. I am drooling remembering this dinner. And I am smiling thinking about the laughs we had throughout the evening. Cooking with friends... just do it, people. It will make your soul swell.