Monday, August 9, 2010

Dinner From the Garden + Bacon (and other food ramblings)

Sorry I haven't posted for a while, the kids were both sick (now I am) and I've been really busy trying to get our new menu ready at work. Thought I'd share a recent, fairly typical summer dinner with produce from our garden and the local farmers' market. Just picked lettuce (from the garden)with blanched broccoli (from the market), zucchini sauteed with thai basil (from the garden), basmati rice and some neiman ranch bacon (from the grocery store) crumbled on top. A little splash of good vinegar, and we had dinner.

I try on occasion to practice what I preach about food. Now don't think that  I manage to eat this way at every meal, but it is what I strive for. When people ask me about how to eat healthy food, I usually tell them to try and eat fresh whole foods, things that didn't come out of a box, they don't even have a nutritional label, because there are no ingredients. I also describe the idea that if you strive to have half of your meal be fruits or vegetables and the other half divided by grains and proteins, then you'll have a great healthy meal. This bowl is a little light on the protein, some marinated white beans would have been a good addition to round out the meal, but, you get the idea...

Note about pork:
While I'm jewish, pork was not off limits at either my mom's (mostly vegetarian) or my dad's (mostly carnivorous) houses growing up.  I have memories of eating salami and peperoni as a kid, my mom even sent me to school in second grade with a matzoh sandwich filled with butter and salami, (could it get any more unkosher?!). Around the age of 12 I started eating a mostly vegetarian diet. In college I was even vegan for a while. That started to change as I began cooking professionally in restaurants  after college in the mid 90's. There was so much good quality meat and it started to smell good to me after a while. At one catering company I worked at up in Boston, each week I had to cook dozens of racks of lamb. I would marinate the lamb overnight in fresh garlic, lemon and orange zest, fresh rosemary and thyme, then sear them in a very hot pan, slather each with dijon mustard and coat them in buttered bread crumbs. I'd serve them up at wedding after wedding, bar mitzvah after bar mitzvah, only to watch the guests and wait staff drool over them. I had never even tasted them, and then one day I couldn't resist, and man was that a delicious piece of lamb! Pork on the other hand still seemed like a taboo. The time I'd spent in Israel after college ingrained in  me the feeling that pork was dirty meat, and despite how good I knew bacon tasted, I just didn't have the desire to eat it, that was until I was pregnant with my second child. I started craving cured pork, salami, bacon etc, but after reading up on the horrible treatment of pigs in commercial feedlot farms (see below), there was no way I could eat the regular meat sold at most grocery stores. On occasion I have a little bit  of pork if it comes from a pig that was sustainably raised, and slaughtered in a "humane" way. 

I can still only stomach a small amount of cured pork at a time, I guess I'm just not used to the fattiness of it. This is some delicious house-made cured pork from Franny's in Brooklyn where I went to eat again after may years away, and it is still fabulous! Great Pizza, even by New Haven standards, and great non-pizza food made with local ingredients from the farmers' markets and sourced from local farms. This plate was shared by the whole table, but I still got a stomach ache afterwords. They also had fabulous roasted eggplant with lemon and almonds, spicy sauteed calamari and homemade celery or cherry soda, delicious!

If you want to learn more about how pigs or other animals are raised in many of the large feed lot farms, the ones that supply much of the pork and meat in our country, check out website and look under issues.

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