From Weed to Treasure–Callaloo

Weeds. They spring up in sidewalk cracks, between rows of your favorite garden veggie, and everywhere else they’re not wanted. But as more and more gardeners know and I’m realizing little by little, they’re not all bad. A recent epiphany came from a line on my CSA’s blackboard in the pick-your-own list:

Pig weed (callaloo)

Now, I’d heard of callaloo and I’d seen pig weed make itself at home in the garden, but never connected the two! The next time I yanked out those straight green stalks with Ace-of-spades-shaped leaves, instead of tossing them in the compost, I was debating whether I should steam or saute.  Continue reading

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Down in the Salsa, Two Chunks to the Left

ChilesIt seems that investigators looking at the salmonella outbreak had jumped into the right party dip, but landed a few centimeters off. While the first supposed culprit was Mexican tomatoes, the discovery of a contaminated jalapeno pepper has them looking at a slicker, spicier suspect. I’m not clear on how one contaminated veggie can change the course of a whole investigation (isn’t it possible that this contamination happens all the time with all different kinds of produce, but people don’t report the salmonella, or attribute it to raw eggs or something?), but I figure they know what they’re doing.

I know I don’t need to say it again, but I will: Eat local, people. You don’t have to be a fancy USDA investigator to figure out that the chain of farm –> farmer’s market –> your table offers fewer chances for screw-ups than big farm –> sorting station –> truck/train trip –> distribution center –> supermarket –> your table.

Don’t give Murphy’s Law any more opportunities to take effect.

Easter Bunny Syndrome

Easter Bunny Syndrome is what one rabbit breader calls the aversion to seeing those furry, long-eared creatures on the menu. It turns out a lot of people (even those who happily eat other meat) have it. To me, this condition is as silly as it sounds. Why object to a meat just because the animal is supposedly cute? Do our feathered and four-stomached friends not deserve the same respect?

If you’re going to follow that kind of logic in life, you should only be nice to really adorable people and let your inner butcher have at the others. I say if you’re going to eat meat, be an equal opportunity omnivore.

The Magical Preservative

Ice Cube FlickrPreservative. It’s the 12-letter 4-letter word of the food world. You’ve got your more innocuous ones, like lemon juice, but most sound like a chemical used to clean industrial machinery (as in “Jennings! Can you grab that can of butylated hydroxytoluene? The gear’s all gunked up again!”) Not very appetizing.

In a report on food additives from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, many of the substances on the list are preservatives. And of these, CSPI suggests one avoid or cut down on most. Continue reading

Tropical Bliss

The notion of eating locally and seasonally isn’t for everyone. Take Stephen Colbert , urging us (albeit with tongue fused solidly to inner cheek), to “thirst locally, drink globally.”

Warning: The wonderland of the recipe I’m about to give you lies just a degree or two from that kind of global eating territory. If it weren’t for fossil fuels and petroleum products, I must admit, I would not have been able to experience the majesty of this frozen delight. So for one moment, I’ve got to appreciate the planes, trains, and plastic bag-happy Bestways of the world.*

Without further chatter, let me give you this recipe. I urge you to try it, and dare you to resist seconds. Even poured over the head of a male model, I doubt it could get any better. Continue reading

Mango, White, and Blue

Sitting in a wooden cabin with rain falling outside, we didn’t feel much like making sparks on the Fourth. On top of that, the closest our little group got to discussing patriotism this past weekend was when we noted our lack of it on our trips abroad. One of us found it hard to argue when Dominicans questioned our invasion of whatever countries came in handy after September 11th, and another reminisced about Brazilians offering to come monitor our frequently botched elections.

Continue reading

Pick Your Own Way

Skimming recent issues of Elle, you can find plenty of interviews with iconic women doing their own iconoclastic thing. And reading along, you can see one defining experience usually pushed them out to uncharted waters. Mary Kate Olsen was surrounded by kooky show biz people from the age of nine months. After a series of admittedly corny kids’ movies, she now pulls off what some people call “bag-lady chic,” is artsy and smart, and chose to talk to her interviewer at a trapeze lesson.

For Liz Phair, it was Oberlin College, where she saw the social system turned on its ear. She was amazed, she told Elle, to find “lesbians were on the top and the mainstream athletes were on the bottom.” It “knocked my socks off.” From there, the unsocked Phair went on to record tough and clever albums, never catering to Joe or Jane Jock. Continue reading

#10 is A-OK

You don’t always have to be #1. In fact, I’m happy to barely hang on to the top 10 in the City Paper’s neighborhood rankings. Two weeks ago, the CP ran the much-touted and talked-about Hoods & Services feature. And this week’s print issue sums up the City Desk blog chatter (think letters to the editor for 20-somethings who think stamps are the things the bouncer puts on your hand when enter the Black Cat).

While some are up on arms about the rankings, and especially known-for-yuppies-and-drunkenness Georgetown’s #3 slot, I’m not concerned. The CP folks lumped in my nabe, Columbia Heights, and nearby Mt. Pleasant, with just-known-for-drunkenness Adams Morgan. They paint AM’s 18th Street as  “the District’s best bet for binge-drinking and one-night stands.”

The essay gives some nice Mt. P and CH history and cultural bits, but mostly the rankings follow the mucky doings of AM (which actually has decent brunches–including local and organic offerings at The Reef and vegan options at Asylum–and other daytime fun).

So really–no hard feelings, City Paper. In fact, I owe you a 24-pack of thanks for keeping my slice of foodie heaven safe from the other white young professionals. Continue reading