Monday, September 21, 2009

Contest, anyone?

Food & Water Watch's Second-Annual Sustainable Seafood Recipe Contest

You want to put safe and environmentally sound fish on your family's plate, and it can be more challenging than ever in tough economic times. Luckily, there's our Smart Seafood Guide, with recommendations of fish that are most likely to be healthy for you and the environment! Now we're challenging chefs of all types to create a sustainable seafood dinner for four -- for under $25.
Visit our site to read the full Frugal Fish contest rules and guidelines.
THE BASICS- Your entry must be your own original creation - Each entry must feature at least one of the fish recommended in our seafood guide- The combined cost of all ingredients must be $25 or less (please include item prices)
DATES- Submissions accepted from September 21, 2009 to midnight EST on October 16, 2009 - The winners will be announced by the end of October JUDGING- Recipes will be judged by Chef Rocky Barnette and Food & Water Watch staff - Recipes will be evaluated based on the following criteria: - Features a recommended fish and meets other contest requirements - Taste - Working within the $25 budget - Uniqueness - Healthiness (i.e. low sodium, low saturated fat, few processed ingredients) - Simplicity - Bonus points for using sustainable/local ingredients
WINNERS- Winning entries will be published in our online recipe collection (click here to see last year's winners in Fish & Tips)- All winners will receive a Food & Water Watch gift- The grand-prize winner will receive $250.00HOW TO ENTERRead the full contest rules and fill out the form below. Send us links to photos or to video as well. When you enter, we'll keep you informed about who wins and about other important actions you can take to protect our seafood.

Smart Choices Program not so smart after all

Victory: Members Force Health Organizations to Back Away from Food Labeling Ploy
Hey Changemakers,
This week thousands of members took on the food industry's new marketing scheme to persuade customers to buy more highly processed foods - and won a major victory.
The new marketing program, called "Smart Choices," is a front-of-the-package nutrition-labeling program designed in theory to help shoppers make smarter food choices.
But as the New York Times exposed last week, the selections are anything but healthy. One of the selections is Froot Loops, which was chosen, according to one board member, because "it's better for you than donuts." (No, we're not kidding. We couldn't make this up.)
Despite the program's dubious standards, it maintained the appearance of legitimacy because researchers associated with three reputable organizations - American Diabetes Association, American Dietetic Association, and Tufts University - were on its board.
In response, thousands of members sent letters to the presidents of these three major research institutions urging them to remove their name from the program.
The result? All three organizations responded to the pressure this week by publicly distancing themselves from the food labeling scheme and officially asking Smart Choices to remove their name from its website and marketing materials - thereby publicly embarrassing and discrediting the program.
Mark this as a victory for consumer advocacy on the web. If anyone still questioned whether the Smart Choices program had any legitimacy, they now have their answer. And if food companies had any question about whether they'd be able to introduce a new marketing program to sell more unhealthy foods without repercussion, they now know there are thousands of consumers who will be watching.

For Your Health, Froot Loops

Published: September 4, 2009
A new food-labeling campaign called Smart Choices, backed by most of the nation’s largest food manufacturers, is “designed to help shoppers easily identify smarter food and beverage choices.”
The green checkmark label that is starting to show up on store shelves will appear on hundreds of packages, including — to the surprise of many nutritionists — sugar-laden cereals like Cocoa Krispies and Froot Loops.
“These are horrible choices,” said Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department of the Harvard School of Public Health.
He said the criteria used by the Smart Choices Program were seriously flawed, allowing less healthy products, like sweet cereals and heavily salted packaged meals, to win its seal of approval. “It’s a blatant failure of this system and it makes it, I’m afraid, not credible,” Mr. Willett said.
The Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture have also weighed in, sending the program’s managers a letter on Aug. 19 saying they intended to monitor its effect on the food choices of consumers.
The letter said the agencies would be concerned if the Smart Choices label “had the effect of encouraging consumers to choose highly processed foods and refined grains instead of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.”
The government is interested in improving nutrition labeling on packages in part because of the nation’s obesity epidemic, which experts say is tied to a diet heavy in processed foods loaded with calories, fats and sugar.
The prominently displayed label debuts as many in the food industry and government are debating how to provide information on the front of packages that includes important elements from the familiar nutrition facts box that usually appears on the back of products.
Eileen T. Kennedy, president of the Smart Choices board and the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, said the program’s criteria were based on government dietary guidelines and widely accepted nutritional standards.
She said the program was also influenced by research into consumer behavior. That research showed that, while shoppers wanted more information, they did not want to hear negative messages or feel their choices were being dictated to them.
“The checkmark means the food item is a ‘better for you’ product, as opposed to having an x on it saying ‘Don’t eat this,’ ” Dr. Kennedy said. “Consumers are smart enough to deduce that if it doesn’t have the checkmark, by implication it’s not a ‘better for you’ product. They want to have a choice. They don’t want to be told ‘You must do this.’ ”
Dr. Kennedy, who is not paid for her work on the program, defended the products endorsed by the program, including sweet cereals. She said Froot Loops was better than other things parents could choose for their children.
“You’re rushing around, you’re trying to think about healthy eating for your kids and you have a choice between a doughnut and a cereal,” Dr. Kennedy said, evoking a hypothetical parent in the supermarket. “So Froot Loops is a better choice.”
Froot Loops qualifies for the label because it meets standards set by the Smart Choices Program for fiber and Vitamins A and C, and because it does not exceed limits on fat, sodium and sugar. It contains the maximum amount of sugar allowed under the program for cereals, 12 grams per serving, which in the case of Froot Loops is 41 percent of the product, measured by weight. That is more sugar than in many popular brands of cookies.
“Froot Loops is an excellent source of many essential vitamins and minerals and it is also a good source of fiber with only 12 grams of sugar,” said Celeste A. Clark, senior vice president of global nutrition for Kellogg’s, which makes Froot Loops. “You cannot judge the nutritional merits of a food product based on one ingredient.”
Dr. Clark, who is a member of the Smart Choices board, said that the program’s standard for sugar in cereals was consistent with federal dietary guidelines that say that “small amounts of sugar” added to nutrient-dense foods like breakfast cereals can make them taste better. That, in theory, will encourage people to eat more of them, which would increase the nutrients in their diet.
Ten companies have signed up for the Smart Choices program so far, including Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, ConAgra Foods, Unilever, General Mills, PepsiCo and Tyson Foods. Companies that participate pay up to $100,000 a year to the program, with the fee based on total sales of its products that bear the seal.
The Smart Choices checkmark is meant to take the place of similar nutritional labels that individual manufacturers began plastering on their packages several years ago, like PepsiCo’s Smart Choices Made Easy and Sensible Solution from Kraft.
In joining Smart Choices, the companies agreed to discontinue their own labeling systems, Ms. Kennedy said.
Michael R. Taylor, a senior F.D.A. adviser, said the agency was concerned that sugar-laden cereals and high-fat foods would bear a label that tells consumers they were nutritionally superior.
“What we don’t want to do is have front-of-package information that in any way is based on cherry-picking the good and not disclosing adequately the components of a product that may be less good,” Mr. Taylor said.
He said the agency would consider the possibility of creating a standardized nutrition label for the front of packages.
“We’re taking a hard look at these programs and we want to independently look at what would be the sound criteria and the best way to present this information,” Mr. Taylor said.
Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, was part of a panel that helped devise the Smart Choices nutritional criteria, until he quit last September. He said the panel was dominated by members of the food industry, which skewed its decisions.
“It was paid for by industry and when industry put down its foot and said this is what we’re doing, that was it, end of story,” he said. Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Clark, who were both on the panel, said industry members had not controlled the results.
Mr. Jacobson objected to some of the panel’s nutritional decisions. The criteria allow foods to carry the Smart Choices seal if they contain added nutrients, which he said could mask shortcomings in the food.
Despite federal guidelines favoring whole grains, the criteria allow breads made with no whole grains to get the seal if they have added nutrients.
“You could start out with some sawdust, add calcium or Vitamin A and meet the criteria,” Mr. Jacobson said.
Nutritionists questioned other foods given the Smart Choices label. The program gives the seal to both regular and light mayonnaise, which could lead consumers to think they are both equally healthy. It also allows frozen meals and packaged sandwiches to have up to 600 milligrams of sodium, a quarter of the recommended daily maximum intake.
“The object of this is to make highly processed foods appear as healthful as unprocessed foods, which they are not,” said Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Do we really want other countries controlling what we eat?

Brazilian beef producer JBS to become world’s largest meat maker with Pilgrim’s Pride deal
Emily Fredrix September 16th, 2009 Brazil beef producer to be world’s largest meat co

MILWAUKEE — A Brazilian meat conglomerate could leap ahead of American meat producer Tyson Foods Inc. to become the world’s largest meat company with two deals announced Wednesday that would expand its interests in beef, dairy and chicken.

One of the deals would take struggling Texas chicken producer Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. out of bankruptcy court protection, while the other merges Brazilian beef producer JBS SA said with Bertin SA, one of Latin America’s largest producers and exporters of milk products, beef and leather.

JBS cemented its status as an international meat conglomerate with its 2007 purchase of Greeley, Colo.-based Swift & Co. for $225 million. It said the newly minted JBS-Bertin will make it the world’s largest meat producer.

With annual revenue forecast at $28.7 billion, JBS-Bertin will edge out Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods Inc., which brought it just under $27 billion in its fiscal 2008.

JBS-Bertin will have operations in North and South America, Africa, Europe, Russia, China and Australia.

“We have already passed Tyson and we’re just starting. We made it all the way here, and we are in a capacity to continue investing,” JBS CEO Joesley Batista told reporters at a news conference in Sao Paulo, according to Brazil’s Agencia Estado news agency.

Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said the deals may change the rankings in the meat business but “won’t determine which company is the best.

“We remain focused on our own business strategies, which we believe will enable us to continue to provide the best protein products and service, both in the U.S. and around the world,” Mickelson wrote about Tyson in an e-mail.

KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Akshay Jagdale likened the new company’s U.S. operation to a clone of Tyson and said diversifying with the two new deals was a smart tactic for surviving downturns that affect like chicken more than beef, which has higher profit margins.

The JBS purchase gives a lifeline to Pittsburg, Texas-based Pilgrim’s Pride, which was the largest U.S. chicken producer, with about 23 percent of the market, when it filed for bankruptcy protection late last year. It had been hobbled by debt from its buyout of a competitor and by high feed costs that left much of the industry in a slump.

JBS will buy 64 percent of the stock in the reorganized Pilgrim’s Pride for $800 million, which implies a total company value of $1.25 billion. The deal includes paying off Pilgrim’s Pride’s creditors in full and distributing new stock to current shareholders — something unusual for a company in bankruptcy protection.

Existing shareholders will receive shares in the remaining 36 percent of Pilgrim’s Pride worth $450 million. Including the plan to pay off $1.5 billion in debt, the entire transaction is worth $2.8 billion, Pilgrim’s Pride said.

In addition, the plan calls for exit financing of $1.75 billion, although spokesman Ray Atkinson said the company would not draw all of that.

Terms were not disclosed for the deal to buy Bertin.

Even before the Pilgrim’s Pride deal, rumors of which surfaced earlier this month, JBS was a top producer of beef and pork in the U.S. and worldwide. With the deals announced Wednesday, JBS will be the largest beef producing company in Brazil, Australia, Argentina and Italy.

JBS became the third-largest beef processor in the U.S. after purchasing Swift. The company’s Web site says it is also the third-largest U.S. pork producer.

Batista said the company will continue with an initial public offering in 2010 for JBS USA, which he expects to raise $2.5 billion. He said no more acquisitions are planned for 2009.

“In 2010, however, I expect to make new announcements,” he said.

Pilgrim’s Pride said the deal is subject to antitrust clearance. U.S. regulators earlier this year sued to block JBS’ acquisition of a major beef producer, citing pricing concerns for consumers and producers. JBS later dropped the $560 million deal with National Beef Packing Co., though it did buy Smithfield Foods Inc.’s beef group.

Pilgrim’s Pride, whose creditors’ valid claims would be paid in cash or by issuance of a new note, said it could emerge from bankruptcy court protection by December if the court approves the deal.

Doug Conn, managing director at Hexagon Securities, said it was unusual for shareholders to receive stock — or any value for their shares — from a company in bankruptcy protection.

“This is due to the fact that there is (one) very interested purchaser in the company in its entirety,” he said. “Normally bank assets are sold in parts or shut down.”

Associated Press Writer Marco Sibaja contributed to this report from Brasilia and AP Business Writer Mae Anderson contributed from New York.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

How to say I love you with a stew

I sometimes drive William crazy asking "what sounds good for dinner?'

And he drives me equally crazy when he says "hot dogs."

I was mortified the first year we were together and I wanted to fix him something special for his birthday and told him to pick anything in the world he wanted and the thing he requested was sloppy Joes, the kind you make with the crap in a can.

I guess the difference between our outlook on food stems from the different ways we were raised. His dad did most of the cooking. His mom made holiday desserts and roasted pecans. Food was something you fixed because you had to eat.

My mom was more the Betty Crocker type who stayed at home and had dinner waiting on the table when my dad got home at 6 o'clock, so cooking has always been on my radar.

A combination of events turned my average interest in cooking into a passion. When our twins, Ryan and Emily, were born and I had to quit my job, it gave me something creative to do. And then, there's Ryan.

Without going into details, I can honestly say that when he was small, and even to this day, feeding him and keeping him healthy has been one of the greatest challenges of my life.

To me, in it's most elemental definition, food is love.

If you want to watch a movie that poignantly illustrates this philosophy, I suggest Babette's Feast, based on a book written by Isak Dinesen, author of Out of Africa. It's beautifully filmed and the story will touch your heart.

I could never recreate the meal Babette serves at the conclusion of this film, but Beef Bourguignon is also a labor of love.

Beef Bourguignon

Ingredients for the Stew:

8 ounces thick sliced bacon,
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine (a full bodied wine like Bordeaux or Burgundy or Chianti)
2-3 cups beef stock (Simple Beef stock is posted on the site, unsalted and defatted)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, mashed (you may choose to add more)
1 sprig thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
Ingredients for the braised onions
18-24 white pearl onions, peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup beef stock
salt & fresh ground pepper

Ingredients for the Sauteed Mushrooms
1 lb mushroom, quartered
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil


First prepare the bacon: slice width wise into 1/4 inch pieces (lardons)

Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Put the tablespoon of olive oil in a large (9" - 10" wide, 3" deep) fireproof casserole and warm over moderate heat.

Saute the lardons for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly.
Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.

Dry off the pieces of beef and saute them, a few at a time in the hot oil/bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides.
Once browned, remove to the side plate with the bacon.

In the same oil/fat, saute the onion and the carrot until softened.
Pour off the fat and return the lardons and the beef to the casserole with the carrots and onion.

Toss the contents of the casserole with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the flour.

Set the uncovered casserole in the oven for four minutes.
Toss the contents of the casserole again and return to the hot oven for 4 more minutes.

Now, lower the heat to 325°F and remove the casserole from the oven.
Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered.
Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs.
Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove.

Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for three to four hours.

The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the meat is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms and set them aside till needed.

For the onion, if using frozen, make sure they are defrosted and drained.
Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and add the onions to the skillet.
Saute over medium heat for about ten minutes, rolling the onions about so they brown as evenly as possible, without breaking apart.

Pour in the stock, season to taste and cover.

Simmer over low heat for about 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape and the liquid has mostly evaporated.
Set the onions aside.

For the mushrooms, heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large skillet.
As soon as the foam begins to subside add the mushrooms and toss and shake the pan for about five minutes.

As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.

To Finish the Stew:
When the meat is tender, remover the casserole from the oven and empty its contents into a sieve set over a saucepan.

Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it (discarding the bits of carrot and onion and herbs which remain in the sieve).
Distribute the mushrooms and onions over the meat.

Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two, skimming off any additional fat which rises to the surface.
You should be left with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.

If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock.
If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency.
Taste for seasoning.

Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
If you are serving immediately, place the covered casserole over medium low heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve in the casserole or on a warm platter surrounded by noodles, potatoes or rice and garnished with fresh parsley.

If serving later or the next day, allow the casserole to cool and place cold, covered casserole in the refrigerator.

20 minutes prior to serving, place over medium low heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.



2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Bring a saucepan of salted water it a boil, reduce the heat, and maintain a simmer.

In a bowl, stir all the ingredients together. Place a colander over the pan, pour about1/4 of the batter into the colander, and press through the holes with a plastic spatula into the hot water.
When the spatzle starts to float to the surface, cover the pan and keep covered until the spatzle appears to swell and is fluffy. Remove the dumplings and repeat procedure with the remaining batter.

French Bread


1 (1/4 ounce) packet active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups water (105 -115 F)
4-4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt

Sprinkle yeast and sugar over warm water and let stand in the bowl of you mixer until foamy, about 5 - 10 minutes.

Stir in flour and salt and process with the paddle attachment of the mixer until mixture forms a stiff dough.

Change to the dough hook and knead dough on low for 8 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, adding in enough of remaining 1/2 cup flour to keep dough from sticking.

Transfer dough to a lightly oiled deep bowl, turning to coat with oil, and let rise, bowl covered with plastic wrap, until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 475 and place a Dutch oven filled with water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Punch down dough and form into two long loaves.

Put each loaf diagonally on a lightly greased large or 17 x 14-inch baking sheet and let rise, uncovered, about 30 minutes.

Make 3 or 4 diagonal slashes on loaf with a razor or sharp knife and lightly brush top with cool water.

Bake in middle of oven 30 minutes, or until golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped Transfer to a rack to cool.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dinner and a movie

First, a few words from William:
Our choice – mine, actually, without objection from my lovely bride – for a movie was “Big Night,” a 1996 drama starring Minnie Driver, Ian Holm, Isabella Rossellini, Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci.
Co-directed and co-written by Tucci (now starring in “Julie & Julia”) “Big Night” is about two Italian immigrant brothers (Tucci and Shalhoub) struggling to keep the doors open to their Italian restaurant in the Chelsea section of New York City. They withdraw all but $63 from their bank account and plan a major party when told that famed jazz and swing band singer Louis Prima would be dining at their restaurant.
If you like food movies, especially those with a great soundtrack, this is a good one. Realistic cooking scenes, and Prima, Rosemary Clooney and Claudio Villa are featured on the soundtrack.
Though considered a drama, “Big Night” has some very funny and poignant moments, especially with Shalhoub, who probably is better known as the strange detective “Monk.” I highly recommend this movie. It’s one of the best food movies I’ve ever seen.
I wasn't quite up to trying to make a timpano, but since I am still working on my mozzarella technique,I decided to make stromboli. Stromboli is sort of like pizza, sort of like calzone. It is a sandwich made from pizza dough and the filling is rolled inside the dough. If you don't like the meats or vegetables I used, feel free to substitute toppings of your choice in equivalent proportions. The next time, I am going to try sliced meatballs in a little tomato sauce instead of the sausage, and sauteed mushrooms instead of the black olives. I've inserted a step by step slide show of how to assemble the Stromboli at the end of the post.
Basic Pizza Dough, recipe follows
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
1 thinly sliced yellow onion
1 thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 thinly sliced green bell pepper
1 large jalapeno, seeded, stemmed and minced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 pound sliced ham
1/4 pound thinly sliced pepperoni or salami
1/2 cup sliced black olives
8 ozs sliced provolone (12 slices)
8 ozs sliced, fresh mozzarella
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water to make an egg wash
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet and set aside.
In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat until browned and the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on paper towels. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Add the onions, bell peppers, and jalapenos and cook, stirring, until very soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and Italian seasoning and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and cool.
Punch down the dough and divide half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the dough to a large rectangle, about 10 by 14 inches. Spread half of the cooled sausage mixture across the dough leaving a
1-inch border. Overlapping slightly, layer half of the ham, pepperoni, olives, provolone and mozzarella cheeses over the top. Using a pastry brush, paint the border of 1 long edge with egg wash. Starting at the opposite long end without egg wash, roll up the dough into a cylinder, pinching the edges to seal. Place on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining ingredients. Let the dough rise, 20 to 30 minutes.
Brush the top of each stromboli with egg wash. Bake until nearly completely golden brown and starting to crisp, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes. Slice thickly and serve.
Basic Pizza Dough:
1 1/2 cup warm (110 degrees F) water
3 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/3 tsp sugar
1 TBS plus 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/3 tsp salt
In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar, and 1 tablespoon oil and stir to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes.

Add the flour and the salt, mixing with the paddle attachment of your mixer or by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Knead by hand or with the dough hook on your mixer for five to 8 minutes.
Oil a large mixing bowl with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Use as directed.
A few suggestions: Less is more or sometimes, more can be too much. Since I am still trying to perfect my homemade mozzarella, I made a batch to use in this stromboli. I used the whole pound and it was a little too much cheese so I altered the recipe to call for 1/2 pound instead.
If you make your own cheese using the recipe on the blog, I have a tip to make the cheese even better. Don't overwork the curds. Once you have separated the cheese from the whey, gently knead the curds into a cohesive ball during the microwave process and you will get a softer cheese more like the expensive fresh mozzarella you can find at the grocery store or specialty market. The more you work the curds, the tougher and stringier the cheese will become. I have also expreimented with the amount of salt and in this batch added 2 teaspoons of kosher salt to the warm curds before kneading and that made for a more flavorful end result.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Is there such a thing as blog envy?

Well, William and I went to see the movie Julie & Julia and now I need a shrink (or a drink).

I have a deep-seated aversion to people who seem to whine and fall apart for no good reason and Julie Powell, who chronicled a year of her life preparing every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in her blog "The Julie/Julia Project," is, at least in the movie version, a first-class whiner.

Other than that, I really did enjoy the film, but it is hard to empathize with someone whose problems seem so ... well, shallow.

For example, in the middle of this blog's post about beef broth from scratch, I did not sink into a "woe is me" diatribe over the fact that my house is slowly (or not so slowly) descending into a sinkhole.

Even though it put him in the doghouse, I think Julie's husband was right, she was more than a little self-absorbed.

I left the movie thinking about the beef tenderloin on sale at the Winn Dixie in a wine and mushroom sauce. William nixed that for pork chops. There is probably a German name for them that would make them sound exotic, like Schweinsomething, but I just call them pork chops in onion gravy and my dad used to love them too.

FYI Julie - just wait until you hit 40.