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Slow Roasted Sun Gold Tomatoes

August 5, 2010
Slow Roasted Sun Gold Tomatoes

If you haven’t noticed the golden cherry tomatoes that are everywhere at the markets these days, you are missing out on a true treasure. I bought two pints the other day. I kept one of the pints raw for salads and popping into my mouth while I am cooking, and the other pint I slow-roasted for fun. Slow roasting is a technique to use that will soften your vegetables and concentrate their flavor times 10. I loved the result of slow roasting the tomatoes, as it amplified their sweetness and made them ready for adding to salads and garnishing other dishes (like black beans). I tossed them with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, added some fresh rosemary and oregano, and then put them in a 200 F oven for about 2 hours. My apartment smelled incredible, and I have been enjoying them in many different dishes since. Try it at home!

A Bone to Pick with Fiber Bars

August 5, 2010

I am usually disturbed by the food commercials that appear on television. This is because it is very rare that a food that you actually should eat is actually advertised. Fresh organic peaches from a local farm at the market certainly are not, neither are heirloom beans, nor artisan bakers for that matter. Not only do they do not have the money to pay for ad space during the Today Show, but I also think it must seem ridiculous to the producers of these products to advertise something that in its purity advertises itself. This leaves junk food, or what unfortunately many people think is normal food, to be targeted at millions of people daily.

There is one ad on the television these days that I find particularly offensive. The ad is for a name-brand cereal bar with fiber in it. Even though I am used to the ridiculousness of these commercials, this one threw me over the edge. In it, there is a man who is handing out samples of these bars, which have added fiber in them. They also have chocolate chips, which always seems like a strange addition to supposedly “healthy” foods. Why on earth are there chocolate chips in breakfast bars (why are there breakfast bars?), energy bars, and granola? Anyway, the first woman in line who samples the bar cannot believe that it is that delicious and has fiber. She is convinced that the sample man is playing tricks on her. When a second woman (a similar demographic to the first) comes up to sample, the first one continues to ask in an excited tone what she thinks of the bar. How can it taste good and have fiber in it is the question they ask.  The comparison of fiber to “cardboard” is mentioned.

I was stunned when I saw this commercial. The fact that we are so dumb to think that we need a bar with added sugar and who-knows-what-else-in-it to give ourselves a basic nutrient speaks very strongly about the depth of our country’s nutritional crisis. What I find so offensive about the commercial, though, is that the company is convincing the viewers that fiber, in fact, does taste like cardboard, and not like apples, strawberries, oatmeal, rice, beans, beets, almonds, or any other delicious food that is in fact healthy for us.  Let me add that these foods are delicious in their natural state or a very basic preparation. It is also trying to persuade us that fiber is this hard to attain star of a nutrient that we can only rely on a bar with chocolate chips to provide us with.  I could go on, but I think I made my point. 

Do yourself a favor and avoid foods you see advertised on television.  Chances are they are not made with your health in mind. 

something beautiful in the garden

July 26, 2010
Morning dew on the baby lacinato kale

I haven't posted anything in a very long time, but I'm finally home in Oregon and feeling a bit settled after so many months of travel.  The last time I wrote I was in Greece eating wild greens, (that trend continues back here where amaranth leaves have been our wild-green spinach substitute of choice).  After Greece there was a whirlwind road trip through Europe- full of food memories both good and bad. High point: trucker's lunch in France.  Low point: Cold can of ravioli at an Italian gas station.  Desperate times...  After the epic drive it was off to Iraq to start filming for a documentary I'm working on about agriculture in the region: more here So because of all that the garden got started a little late this year... but things are finally starting to sprout and bloom. I took the above photo of my young lacinato Kale the other morning because I love the decorative dew drops lining the leaves. Hopefully I will be able to start eating things very soon...   

Hibiscus, Rose, and Carcade Iced Tea

July 10, 2010
Rose, Hibiscus, and Carcade Tea

Last Summer, I wrote about Emma and I making iced tea with oregano out in Oregon. We were complete addicts. I usually am a very lazy ice tea maker (as in I never make it), and depend on others to put it together. I think it has to do with the waiting for the tea to cool.  However, yesterday I was inspired enough to make a batch for myself.

I have always found myself completely lost in the world of flowers, and this is yet another example of my perdition. I had been wanting to make a tea with dried hibiscus flowers and dried roses. I had a jar of dried Damascene roses from my recent trip to Turkey; I had drank them in infusions daily while in Istanbul. Roses bring happiness and beauty into our lives, and I absolutely love the femininity of their petals floating in water as they steep. I thought that the hibiscus would perk up the flavor of the rose with its tartness, as well as give it a nice red color. However, once I went to the Egyptian Bazaar in Istanbul, my novel idea seemed cheesy, because I saw the combination for sale at almost every booth under the name of “Lovers Tea” or something of the sort. Yesterday my sense of pride was redeemed, when I found a third flower to include- a dried Carcade- from the same family of Hibiscus, but a bit more red in color, and tighter in shape. They, like the hibiscus flower, are rich in vitamins, such as Vitamin C, and help boost the immune system. I put a small handful of each of the three flowers in a large Ball jar, along with two sprigs of mint. I poured over boiling hot water and let it steep. Once it cooled, I placed it in the fridge to set overnight. The next day I had a glass of the vermilion tea, and felt like all was right in the world again. I thought that I would have to add stevia or honey, or even a drip of lime juice, but I was content with it just as it was. You might not be able to find Carcade near you, but at least hunt down the hibiscus (known as Jamaica in Spanish and Sorrel in Jamaica), and the dried roses (from Middle Eastern grocery stores) to make this for yourself.

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