Goats and greens

saag paneer

My latest recipe for MyJewishLearning.com combines pungent, earthy goat cheese with spicy greens. The dish comes with a story, of course, that reveals another melding. Read all about it.

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Jewish goat cheese

From December 9 to 12, I attended the Hazon Food Conference – East Coast at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut. Here is a piece I wrote for The Jew and the Carrot about one “culturally” enlightening session. Photo by moi.

Goat feta

Can Cheese Be Jewish?

“Goats are the Jews of the animal kingdom,” Aitan Mizrahi told a group at the Hazon Food Conference on Friday morning. The workshop participants, gathered in the warm, cream-scented air of a small industrial kitchen at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, immediately picked up on the tongue-in-cheek theme: They wander, they are intelligent, and they are stiff-necked, they said. And, Mizrahi pointed out, “They enjoy to be in a minyan and they also enjoy to go off on their own and shmooze.”

So the gentle and friendly milk-producers make a perfect fit for Freedman, an eco-conscious retreat space in the Berkshires.

Read more on The Jew and the Carrot.

Home cooking – the happiest meal of all

Cooking pot (what a surprise)

In response to a city council vote to ban toys from Happy Meals, an op-ed in the San Francisco Examiner in early November argued that it’s no biggie. The piece came from Karen Wells, vice president of nutrition and menu strategy for McDonald’s USA. She argues that the boxed meals–consisting mostly of processed foods with fairly high fat, sodium, and sugar content–are a treat, not a threat.

I’m glad that someone views our fast food nation this way. As I noted in another post, Americans spend just 27 minutes a day preparing food, according to Michael Pollan’s research. He writes that this amounts to half the time we spent in the 1960s. By one count, McDonald’s has sold more than 20 billion of these meals since it first introduced the concept in 1979, averaging more than 640 million per year. Continue reading

The Fear of Raw Ingredients (my latest post on The Jew and the Carrot)

My generation was raised to fear cookie dough. Salmonella could lurk in every rubber spatula, and terrible things would befall the child who ate a bite of a raw confection. Only baking could render the dough safe.

Thanks to the recall of millions of eggs from Iowa’s Hillandale farms and Wright County Egg this past summer, the fear of uncooked eggs has intensified. According to The Washington Post, an estimated 2.3 million of the 47 billion eggs produced each year — by my calculations, one in about 20,000 — are contaminated. I worry that pretty soon even a well-cooked kugel will go the way of the Rocky Balboa-style smoothie.


Read more: http://blogs.forward.com/the-jew-and-the-carrot/131763/#ixzz11LzHdrRG

Stop and think; choose a blessing and bless; eat

oatmeal

(This is cross-posted from The Jew and the Carrot)

Life in general distracts me. It’s true no matter what I’m doing or where I am. If I go into the food co-op for bread and peanut butter, I’ll carry out shampoo and trail mix; when I resolve to run twelve times around the track, I lose count after the third loop. Even when I get through a task, I often neglect to follow up or look back to consider its lessons. By the time I’m halfway through, my mind is already whirring off in another direction.

So I was a little concerned when I signed up for a 21-day “spring rejuvenation cleanse” and learned that it would involve focus. In multiple ways. But this also got to the heart of why I wanted to purify in the first place.

To get the most out of this food-based detoxifying experience, the approximately 50 participants are supposed to eat certain foods, avoid others, prepare detoxifying recipes, breathe deeply, take long walks, and journal about the whole thing each day. On top of all that, our guide encourages us to “eat mindfully.” I figured if I could do all of that, I might have a fighting chance of getting my attention deficit into the black. Continue reading

Washington Jewish Week publishes my food blatherings

One afternoon in late December, Danny Abruzzese, the executive chef of Asilomar Conference Grounds charged with preparing glatt kosher food for the 2009 Hazon Food Conference, ushered me into a side dining room to talk. On the way, he pointed one thick hand toward a slim man in a hat and tzitzit, ritual fringes. “This is my brother right here,” the Italian American said, grinning.

So begins the piece “Heated differences lead to brotherhood” in the January 27 issue of Washington Jewish Week. WJW now joins the likes of Jewcy.com, The Jew and the Carrot, and The Washington Post in the ranks of publications that find my Jewish food ramblings worthy  of publication. Check out the full piece in the Community Voices section of last week’s paper.

What would Moses drive?

IMG_3432

What would Moses drive? This was the title of a session on climate change at the Hazon Food Conference, held December 24 to 27 in Pacific Grove, Calif. Indeed, this is a question for the ages. Or for right now.

…that’s the opening of a post I wrote for Jewcy.com. I was thrilled to write for them, and to share thoughts on the intersection of Judaism and climate change action. Read the whole post at Jewcy.

Heading west in search of food

On December 24, I will say goodbye to the contents of my one-person refrigerator and head to a table for more than 600. Yes, I’m off to the Hazon Food Conference in Pacific Grove, CA. According to the Twitter buzz, the conference promises to draw the largest gathering of the New Jewish Food Movement ever!

Not that we will all sit down and nod our heads together. Indeed, as the debate about meat at the conference shows, you can expect a few disagreements. I look forward to observing and perhaps taking part in some of these discussions (I already jumped into the meat comment combat — in defense of the stuff, believe it or not!).

If you’re curious what this is all about, check out the website and the schedule. Then try not to salivate too much!

I look forward to writing about this experience and guiding you to other accounts in word and image.

A fine flurry of opinion

Religion, ethics, food morals, and chickens’ flesh and souls have all collided in a flurry on The Jew and the Carrot. Hazon, the Jewish environmental organization that runs the blog, has planned a ritual slaughter of chickens as part of its annual food conference, and not everyone agrees with this idea.

Check out the discussion flying every which way at “The Debate:  Eating Meat (or not) at the Hazon Food Conference”.