100 Mile Diet: Local Eating for Global Change - Talk local turkey
and this might be the perfect time trying out some local-ness if you haven't already. Think about it: the meal is inherently locally source-able because we live where it was invented when most foods were local. Most people spend extra time planning and shopping for this meal.
This sunday (Nov 12th) Seacoast Slow Food is having a demo local Thanksgiving - 5:30pm at the Tyco Center at Strawbery Banke - all are invited.
Some other stores are turning out to be good sources of local foods: The Durham Marketplace (long-standing supporter of local farmers), Portsmouth Health Food Store has a lot of local products, ie butter, eggs, bread, etc. Philbrick's Fresh Market has more than a couple items that have really just surprised me - who knew there was middle eastern yogurt being made out of Sunrise Farms in Exeter? (excellent in mashed potatoes or creamed spinach)
what other sources are there for local foods after the farmers' markets have closed? let me know here or use the wiki: seacoasteatlocal.wikispaces.com
The sad: I returned to Newmarket to see what became of my beloved Wheelies onion rings when Mama Lena's took over that spot. Alas, the cornmeal encrusted, tender, sweet, hand-made beauties are gone. As is the roast beef. I cannot attest to Mama Lena's, I was only after those onion rings.
The glad: The Coat of Arms now offers all you can eat wings for $5 on Friday nights from 4-7pm. They are not at all spicy. They are, however, very crispy, which is just as, if not more, important. IE, I can eat crispy weak-flavored wings, I cannot eat flabby wings, unless they are incredibly spot on in flavor and spice (and in which case I would probably just lick them, not actually eat them.) They also offer barbecue flavor, sticky sweet and totally good.
This is a camera phone pick from Philbrick's Fresh Market in Portsmouth - all the bagged salad was labeled like this, even though the USDA has given the all clear. [Philbrick's actually does a decent job carrying locally produced goods - today I found tortillas from Brentwood, NH and yogurt from Exeter, NH! They don't do a great job labeling these products as local, or highlighting them. They also don't do a great job buying or selling local produce.]
rightous, right-on outrage, from cindy of food migration, inspired by perfect fruit:
Where exactly do we intend to take this country? Is this really what everybody wants: a long line of chain stores and cookie-cutter housing developments stretching endlessly across the land? It seems like we've made this crazy Faustian bargain with development: give us convenience and low prices, and we'll sacrifice originality, individuality, flavor, passion, specificity. And what does all this bring us? More time to watch bigger televisions and avoid contact with our neighbors?
In the revamped space of Molly Malone's downstairs is now Mint. From the website, "Portsmouth's Newest Ultra Lounge!" and "Cosmopolitan Atmosphere" and "Irish American Food . . . with an Asian Fusion Twist"
I won't knock it 'till I try it, but I'm not putting it high on my list of things to try . . . in fact, several things look interesting, but I need to get over the idea of an Asian Fusion ultra lounge in Molly Malone's.
Here's the rest of the menu.
Open to the public. Here's their press release, ver batim:
UNH Dining, Office of Sustainability Partner With Local Producers
DURHAM, N.H. – Pork raised in Barrington glazed with honey from Hudson ... buffalo burgers from Durham Point Road ... stuffed organic tomatoes grown on the University of New Hampshire campus.
This menu is not from a fine dining restaurant but rather from Stillings Marketplace dining hall at UNH, which hosts the second annual Local Harvest Dinner Thursday, Sept. 21, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. The gourmet meal celebrates the region’s producers as well as its rich agricultural heritage. The Local Harvest Dinner, offered to all students on the UNH meal plan, is open to the public ($11.50 adults; $6.00 youth under 13). Stillings Marketplace is located near the intersection of Garrison Avenue and Stafford Avenue, behind Stoke Hall.
“The dinner offers students a chance to enjoy delicious, fresh food while learning some of the benefits of supporting local agriculture,” says Elisabeth Farrell, a program coordinator for UNH’s Office of Sustainability, which partners with UNH Dining in Local Harvest. Significant among those benefits, she notes, are supporting local economies and maintaining the vibrant agricultural landscape for which New Hampshire is known.
While the food at the Local Harvest Dinner has local roots, many menu items are exotic: mussels provençale (with mussels raised at UNH’s Open Ocean Aquaculture project off the Isles of Shoals); mushroom, cheddar and egg torta (made with cage-free eggs from Pete & Gerry’s of Monroe); and Szechuan broccoli and shiitake mushroom stir-fry. Lasting Legacy Farm of Barrington will provide lamb, beef, chicken, and pork; the latter will be glazed with honey from Bee Rich Apiaries of Hudson. Rochester’s Full Moon Farm will offer goat cheese on pizza and in cream and goat cheese cakes, a popular item at last year’s dinner. Apples from UNH’s Woodman Farm will be baked into tartes, and Portsmouth Tea Company will provide gourmet tea. Roasted free-range chicken (Lasting Legacy Farm), broiled fresh Maine haddock, corn on the cob (Tuttle’s in Dover) and blueberry pie cater to more traditional tastes.
“Diners will see a huge variety of local food,” says Ralph Coughenour, director of culinary services for UNH Dining, noting that given the region’s short growing season – even shorter this cool, rainy year – the range of local food is surprising. Coughenour and his colleagues have collaborated with the Boston-based supplier Costa Produce to bring local foods to the UNH table. “They’re working very closely with us to try to get as much local produce as they can,” he says.
UNH Dining also has forged a strong relationship with the UNH Organic Gardening Club, which grows produce on two acres of certified-organic land on the UNH campus. “We buy just about everything they have,” Coughenour says, adding that he’s worked with the club to tweak their production to better serve UNH Dining’s needs.
Last year’s Local Harvest Dinner, the first, was such a success that the organizers moved it to the larger Stillings Marketplace. The larger space will provide more room for farmers and other producers to meet with diners and educate them about their products and operations.
A partnership of the UNH Office of Sustainability and UNH Dining, the Local Harvest Dinner is part of UNH Dining’s Local Harvest initiative, which brings local food, including cage-free eggs and organic produce, to UNH’s three student dining halls regularly. UNH is the first land-grant university in the nation with an organic research dairy; it is home to an active Organic Gardening Club, a food waste composting program, and the New Hampshire Farm to School Program, which connects state K-12 schools with New Hampshire farms. For more information, go to http://www.unh.edu/dining/localharvest.htm or www.sustainableunh.unh.edu.
The Local Harvest Dinner is supported by the Durham Marketplace, the New Hampshire Farm to Restaurant Connection, New Hampshire Made, and the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA) at UNH.
Flag Hill, along with chef Ted McCormack, will be introducing a new style of dinners in the Ferguson-Davis Dining Room beginning Thursday, October 5, 2006. These four course dinners will feature a Regional New England Cuisine, the vast majority of the ingredients coming from local farms and producers. As a company, Flag Hill has always strived to feature and support local artisians, products, organizations, agriculture, and business. It is with this idea that together Flag Hill and chef Ted McCormack present a schedule of dinners at the Ferguson-Davis Dining Room that focus on the wonderful and varied flavor of foods that can be procured locally, sometimes right in your own back yard.
Menus and format are soon to follow. Reservations will be accepted once the dinner menu for that date has been posted online. The general schedule through December will be:
October: Every Thursday at 6:00
November: Every Friday and Saturday at 6:00
December: Every Friday and Saturday at 6:00
The added emphasis is mine. One of the big reasons B and I got married there was this very commitment of theirs to supporting other local agricultural businesses where and when they could. I'll be most interested to see how this actually plays out.
just finished this book, and I found it well worth most of it, despite its 500 page length (600 if you read the notes). Nestle examines food from a nutritional standpoint, separating out what is important to pay attention to from what is not. For example, all the hype around soy - she looks at all the studies, and comes to the conclusion that if you like it, eat it - if not, don't. Either way it isn't necessarily all that great for you, nor is it all that bad for you. She illustrates why we get so many conflicting messages (the industries are sponsoring the studies, and food studies are really really hard to be conclusive about, because you can't feed humans only soy for 5 years, for example). She explains how politically driven it all is, because the USDA doesn't have our health interests at heart, it has the economic interests of the industries at heart. A good find: the Seafood Choice Alliance combines several factors to look at consumer fish buying - I've talked about the Seafood Watch Program cards before, but those look at ecological implications, not health (ie mercury levels) implications - Seafood Choice Alliance does both. And a choice quote:
You eat. Willingly or not you participate in the environment of food choice. The choices you make about food are as much about the kind of world you want to live in as they are about what to have for dinner.Buy this book from Powell's
Maine seems to really get it. It being what a state can do to support and promote food producers. They've got the very successful "Get Real, Get Maine" campaign (with an amazingly informative and user-friendly website). I hear from Mainers that the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is top-notch. There's also the Maine Foods Network.
And now there's "Certified Maine Lobster." To be honest, I don't know enough about lobster to know if there's much difference between a lobster caught in Maine and one caught off of Rhode Island. And I can't believe there's a difference between NH lobster and Maine lobsters caught just a couple miles north, just as the state fisherman's association is quick to point out.
My point here is that our response shouldn't be to downgrade what they are doing by insisting it is meaningless. We should take a page from their playbook - create brand identity where there was none, help producers label and promote their foods in a way that influences consumers. We've got this NH's Own thing, but I just don't see it often enough. Definitely not as often as I see the Get Real, Get Maine label. And the farmers and growers I talk to don't feel very supported by the state in terms of what the state could do to promote NH agriculture/food producers in general, therefore creating a more informed customer, a customer who will take the time to seek local agriculture/food producers out and pay the price they often require.
I haven't tried it yet, and won't be able to until the Seacoast Eat Local Challenge is over (though B and I are vaguely considering just keeping on going - I would demand a little relaxation of our rules), but we walked in and looked around a bit anyway.
It's shiny. Very shiny and neat and appealing to masses, totally put together in a polished fashion. It's right next to the church, in the new building, and its got a wide berth of outdoor seating. Which I love.
We picked up a flyer with a menu; there are several things I want to try (here's their website, but at the time of this writing it was their logo and nothing more). The popovers with maple butter, for one. The turkey & bacon terrine also appeals. There's assorted breakfast pastries, salads, sandwiches, a cheese plate. They are part of the John Tinios baby-empire, so serve Galley Hatch desserts.
Also of note: we noticed a full bar. The outdoor seating isn't really sequestered, so I'm not sure about drinking outdoors. The menu also mentions wines.
Anyone tried it out yet?
I've been looking for a new word, a word I can use on a daily basis, a word that sums up something trying to be more than what it is and in doing so becomes less that what it was, and in terms of food, gourmeh does it for me.
From the Wired story whence it came:
Croissants become more like dinner rolls. Burger chains talk up their "Angus beef" where "Angus" is apparently Latin for "indistinguishable from the other stuff." You start getting sandwiches where the bread is laced with green speckles and topped with white powder, but these may as well be confetti and sawdust for all they add to the flavor. I have a word for food that tries to look like something you'd get at the queen's birthday dinner but tastes like something you'd poke holes in before you microwave it: gourmeh.
Eat Drink Make Movie: Hollywood's Next Course - New York Times
The New York Times had an article this week talking about foodie movies in the works, as well as looking at what makes a foodie movie work, and why they're so popular. For me its the fact that I can't *always* be eating or cooking, so things like talking about food, reading about food, and the rare but usually pleasurable watching people eat, cook, and talk about food come into play. And they give proper homage to the best foodie movie, containing the best scene, of all time: Big Night.
For me, the overarching highlight running through this book is the detailed descriptions of how Mastering the Art came to be. Extraordinary detail about the lengths she went to to thoroughly test each recipe, and the challenge of collaborating, and the trials of finding the right publisher. Utterly fascinating stuff, and a really good read for anyone who thinks to someday maybe publish a cookbook. Not really a primer on the topic, but the effect is somewhat the same - if you would do it right, you would follow Julia's exacting technique.
Buy this book from Powell's
What follows are my recollections from a throw-together experiment. Peeps were coming to eat 4th leftovers, mostly burger shaped things, and I didn't have anything new for my veggie friend. But I did have some already grilled portabellas, some brand new dried mushrooms from the Oyster Creek Mushroom Company (all from Maine except the morels. absolutely gorgeous dried mushrooms. much much fresher and more fragrant than most others I've worked with), and a block of firm tofu in the fridge. A cursory glance at a couple online recipes gave me the idea to firm it all up with breadcrumbs. There were a lot of suggestions for lentils, beans, shredded carrots, celery, and whatnot, but I wasn't interested. Simple, straight forward, and grill-capable. That's what I was going for.
Makes 5-6 patties, takes about 2 hours total but most of that is non-active marinating time.
1/2 cup chopped grilled portabellas (or, if you're starting without leftovers, start with 3/4 cup fresh)
1/4 cup assorted dried mushrooms (use what you like, if you don't have dried, use 1/2 fresh)
garlic (when I made this recipe, garlic scapes were in season so I used those, about 6, minced. This week I picked some fresh garlic, in which case, I'd use a whole head - to sum up: lots of garlic in whatever form you've got it)
4 tbl Worcestshire sauce, vegetarian variety (Annie's makes a great one)
4 tbl olive oil, another 4 tbl for grilling
1 1/2 to 2 cups bread crumbs
Soak the dried mushrooms for about 30 minutes, reserve the liquid. Drain the tofu and roughly cube, pressing out excess water. Marinate tofu in mushroom liquid and Worcestshire sauce. Meanwhile, rough chop the dried mushrooms and saute in the olive oil over medium heat. Add the portabellas, the shallots, and the garlic after the dried mushrooms have become golden and sauteed, and cook only a few minutes more. Take off the heat and allow to cool while the tofu finishes marinating. The tofu should marinate for at least 30 minutes, preferrably, an hour.
Drain the tofu, reserving 4 tbl of the liquid and throw tofu and reserved liquid into a food processor or heavy-duty blender. Add the mushroom garlic saute, and process until it's totally mushed. Add 1 1/2 cups of the bread crumbs and process some more. Feel the mixture. If it is really wet, add another half cup of bread crumbs. It should be fairly firm and solid, and not really mushy or sticky. Form into patties and grill at your leisure (I made mine 4 hours ahead and they were great.) Right before grilling, brush a little olive oil over each side.
clockwise-ish from baguette: peppidews, duck prosciutto, parma, wild boar pate, marinated tomatoes, spanish chorizo, a cheese I remember as Morin which was surprisingly sweet and fresh tasting, and dulce blue
went to a farmer's birthday party
[note to food fans: farmers not only grow great food, they can tell you where to get other great food. And they most always share. J&R of New Roots Farm hooked me up with a bit of the last of last year's garlic - just enough to get me through before we get green garlic - how to become a friend of a farmer in you aren't already? start volunteering. pick peas for hours and hours. Not only will you end up having performed productive exercise and bringing home some perfect peas, they don't forget who their friends are.]
and met the infamous Garen of Back River Farm in Dover, NH
[I know he sells at Portsmouth Farmers Market, Saturdays 8-1 in the parking lot of the city building, I'm sure he does other markets but not sure which]
who started talking about his winter job at Enoteca Italiana on gourmet alley [rte 1a] in Kittery. Not just talking but describing the most interesting meats. Preserved salamis, prociuttos, and others. And then he said the magic words: duck prociutto. We asked further questions about location [across from the lion's club], and set off the next morning through the downpour.
It is a wonderous place, one to be visited infrequently [read: expensive. not overly so for what they are selling, but not everyday eats], but perfect for the day we were having. With 5" of rain in the process of falling, stinky oozy cheeses, assorted meats, little interesting pickly and olivy things, bread, and wine were all on the menu. Last Friday of every month, one of the workers was telling us, they rock out with an intense wine-tasting that starts at 2pm. Definitely my kind of place.
as for the duck prosciutto [read no further meat-squeamish]: it was amazing. The fatty parts simply melted in your mouth. Melted. Like yummy ducky buttah.
On a recent trip to the Spice Center in Manchester, I picked up a couple fun, crazy inexpensive things. The highlights were Indian ramen and Indian soda.
The best part about the Spice Center is that everything is so dang inexpensive that there's no real risk in buying things. Everything I've purchased has been successful, each time I go I get a little more adventurous.
Of course, its all the polar opposite of eating locally. Moderation in all things except gluttony.
Even though August and my own Eat Local Challenge are a bit off, rhubarb is in season now. And if I learned anything from last year, its that I missed my sour - a little lemon, a little lime - it all goes a long way. Rhubarb can sub for lemon in a bunch of ways: in vinaigrettes, in salsa, anything that needs just a little twang. So I'm stocking up now. Looks like I'm not the only one.
But it's most definitely folk.
I can't say enough how much I am loving Springsteen's new album of Seeger covers (which are themselves covers of folk songs - gotta love the folk process), created over the course of three days in a house, 1 take per song. Not only the songs themselves, the instrumentals, Springsteen's voice lending itself naturally, the other singers, the styling, but the whole process rocks my party world. Definitely worth it to own. And tour dates have been announced, though tickets for the two places I would go aren't on sale yet.
[Thanks to Dr. G$ for clueing me in that this thing I've heard about in the background noise of NPR and the web is something I may actually want to focus intense intention on.]
Although our own effort will really concentrate in August, we buy and eat locally produced foods as much as possible year-round. The Locavores are doing a May challenge this year, and these crazy kids ate within 100 miles for a year in Vancouver. They have a great site with a lot of clear and to the point info, for those wondering what the fuss is all about.
My favorite quick line, "Let's rebuild the family farm, stop burning oil to move our food around, and remember what good eating is all about."
Eco-fish! Check it out! Takes all the guess work and thought and carrying little cards around out of buying health and environmentally friendly fish.
this was awhile back, i have some catching up to do. As you can see, he panfried them then baked them off for a bit. They were absolutely delicious - a filling of cabbage, mostly, with some mushrooms and onions.
It should be sugaring season, but with the weird winter we've had, most all the producers are off. No matter, the sugar shacks are open and in full swing. Although the Cilley family of Newmarket lost most of their trees a few years back, they still offer breakfast in season (and for a bit in the fall) on Sundays from 7-12.
The service is friendly, the atmosphere homey and quaint, what with the wood stoves providing all the heat and the chairs salvaged from a school a while back. But what sets this place apart is how great the food is.
Real maple syrup, plentiful pitchers of it, on every table. I always start with a donut, a homemade cake one served with a side of maple cream to slather on. Also highly recommended are the french toast (plenty moist), pancakes, and the baked beans. I really love these baked beans, with their strong maple flavor. New England breakfast at its best. I get them with kielbasa.
The only thing I don't like about this place is the coffee - it's weak and church-coffee-hour-like. But this is forgivable, because the rest of the experience makes up for it. I just try to drink my coffee before I get there . . .
Great Hill Maple
Sundays, 7-12 until Mother's Day
The backstory: B & I stopped by 43 on our way to dinner to get liquored up (we weren't looking forward to that particular dinner w/ friends - they chose the place). It was a quiet Wednesday night, it was early. We sat at the bar. The bartender was in a good mood, and when we tried one of his special drinks off the menu and loved it, he offered us some other fun stuff he'd been making. Cordials, bitters, and so on. All very good, very fun. But what blew me away was the rosemary cordial. He added pear nectar, a squeeze or two of lime, and crushed juniper berries - zowie.
Fast forward a few months, we're back at 43 because I need more of that rosemary cordial. And he doesn't have any more - he's on to new things, cool things, but they just aren't the same. So I basically start whining about the lack of rosemary cordial, so he tells me how to make it:
steep a bunch of rosemary in vodka (he recommends Cold River vodka, from Maine, a real and wonderful potato vodka, though he definitely endorses using cheaper stuff for the cordials because the taste will be mutated) for a week. Stir in half as much sugar as vodka, let it steep another week. Taste it. Take the rosemary out if you like it. Drink it.
So of course we didn't just make rosemary, we made rosemary with honey, regular rosemary, chai spices, and hot pepper - you know those little asian dried hot peppers? We also tried to make cilantro - but after the week it was funk dog so we tossed it.
The chai is amazing - we made an iced cocktail with condensed milk and black tea. I've been drinking the rosemary with pear and lime and crushed juniper berries. The hot pepper - well, the cocktail part eludes us. The cordial is very very very hot. So we're still mulling it over.
To make up for wasted lunch, we headed straight for this famous Atlanta spot for supper. B and I initially argued over who got to order the chicken fried steak, and in the end, it was a good thing I lost. I ordered the fried chicken.
Man o' man - this whole time I have been fooling myself and my taste bud memories. *This* is fried chicken. Crunchy, salty, and most of all - juicy. There was chicken juice mixed with chicken grease running all over the place, and what got into my mouth made me estatic. And the collard greens. Just absolutely perfect. The mac & cheese had this custardy-like texture that was all its own and very good. Baked but not baked to death. This is what I came to Atlanta to eat.
With his chicken friend steak, B got dumplings and fried okra. He loved the dumplings, the fried okra was just meh because it was fairly luke-warm when it arrived and chilled before too long.
The meal started with a basket of bread - cinnamon rolls, yeast rolls, and little cornbread muffins. Their cornbread was much too dense and dry to eat on its own, but it was perfect for sopping up pot likker, a bowl of which they brought us because we were first-timers (this is the bottom of the collard pot, mostly liquid flavored with collards and salt pork). The yeast rolls were amazing - I haven't had one in ages and it was a somewhat revelatory experience - why wasn't I making these? (I say somewhat because I'm always determining to cook things and don't really follow through.)
We were much too full for dessert. This was a problem of the south I had anticipated and actually worried over. We'd be too full, except that the south is known for fantastic desserts and pecan pie is right up there with fried chicken in my book. Haven't solved this problem yet.
B and I do lent. We aren't Catholic, but we enjoy the process of focusing on what we do or don't eat and the benefits it gives us mentally, spiritually, and health-wise. Year 1 we gave up potato chips and soda, which was a very big deal at the time and now would be nothing - thanks to lent we changed that habit pretty much forever. Year 2 was red meat, year 3 was all meat. We over-boca'd, but we learned about some new foods and were pretty happy with the results overall. Bacon was hard. Our trip to San Diego last year fell in the middle of lent, and there was no way in hell I was giving up anything that I might potentially possibly eat in San Diego. So we tried adding - 5 fruits and veggies a day. B did well by starting each day with 5 bananas and then continuing to eat whatever for the rest of the day. I pretty much failed, which dissapointed me after 3 years of doing so well.
So - for Year 5 we are giving up American food, except breakfast. There has already been much debate, much dragging out of the Oxford Companion to Food, to determine what is and isn't American. The debates will continue, I'm sure, but thus far: no potato chips, burgers (ow!), hot dogs, soda, pizza, buffalo wings (double ow!). It is more about looking at other cuisines, especially cuisines of developing countries, and experimenting with new ingredients and preparations. No being lazy about food, in other words.
take a swig:
- everytime she says 'butter.' Everytime.
- everytime she forgets something in the oven, it burns, and she pretends nothing's wrong.
- everytime she makes a flimsy argument about calories or dieting. Like letting you know potatoes have only 70 calories each then adding two cups of cream and 6 tbl of butter to said potato dish
- everytime she almost injures herself in demonstrating some safety thing. Like putting her knife over her wrist or waving her arms around boiling pots of oil.
Please don't get me wrong. I adore the woman. I worship her. And she did what is really never done now - a non-stop cooking show, without even commercial breaks, in one take. Before cooking shows were a dime a dozen. God love her.
Just make sure no one needs to drive home after.
Their fourth location is now open, on Lafayette in Portsmouth, where Seacoast Pizza used to be, next to the cigar store, and not more than a stone's throw from my house. Danger! Danger Will Robinson!
I like Joe's NY pizza - sometimes I am craving other pizza, Gepetto's and Savario's come to mind. But sometimes this exactly hits the spot. Especially if I'm driving home and starving and food has to happen NOW! There's always a good selection of slices ready to go.
This new location is already delivering, though it is still waiting for its fry-o-later. Yep. Once said fry-o-later comes in, there will be wings! Let us all get our hopes up that they will be great and they will be new yorker wings. (On a side note, I ate fairly decent wings at Jack Quigly's in Portsmouth last night. Good. They've moved up to the not-at-all-competative spot of best in the seacoast.)
open 11-9 (later on Friday and Saturday)
2968 Lafayette Road
First, don't get any ideas. This stuff is horrible and evil. It is in no way worth it. Vegetarians and vegans really aren't missing that much when it comes to Jell-o, I mean it's not foie gras or anything (although in related news I was reading stuff today about veg pate and I thought, 'hmmmm'. No, I never learn any lessons. Never).
And I certainly didn't attempt it because a vegetarian or vegan has requested it. It was a self-assignment inspired by a Christmas Party I was co-hosting. The theme, Classis Holiday Foods of the 50's, in turn inspired by the Sandwich Loaf post over at Food Migration a few months back. (I did make the Sandwich Loaf. I loved the frosting, most people couldn't bring themselves to eat it, but one guy (from Spain if that means anything) ate several slices. Thick slices.) One vegetarian was expected to attend, and I just like to play around with things. So there had to be jello dishes, and they had to be weird and fun, and they had to be vegan.
Now, if you are anything like me, you are right now thinking, "Well, maybe she made it wrong. Maybe I can do it right." And I admit, you could be right, and I would like to hear about it. But I give you fair warning that this is not a worthwhile experiment or experience. Three evenings of failed vegan gelatine making later, I had one successful batch (and several terrible batches that I had to use anyway). It was fine. But ultimately, it was jello. And jello is just not worth it.
A couple trips to some health food stores, and I was the proud owner of some Agar Agar, with is a seaweed substance. You can use some other things, Google my trusty Internet steed led me to Agar Agar. Agar Agar is also responsible for a lot of Asian gummy jelly things. Some of these are very good - some are horrid. But a lot are vegan!
What I was attempting to make is this:
Called broken glass dessert, cut class dessert, stained glass dessert, or crown jewel dessert. Actually, looking at it right now I wish I had a couple boxes of Jello and some Cool Whip to make it for real. It's just so fun looking!
You make two or three different colors of jello, let them cool and solidify, then cut them into teeny little cubes. Then, make a fourth batch, let it cool a bit, mix it up well with Cool Whip, then mix in all those cubes. Press it into a loaf pan or other appropriate container and let that solidify.
In vegan gelatine making, you take fruit juice, simmer it with several tablespoons of Agar Agar for a little while, then treat it like jello. First up, cranberry juice. Wonderful, worked the first time, solidified to a normal texture, tasted like cranberry juice, was a pleasingly clear red, just like jello.
And then everything went terribly terribly wrong.
My plan was to make red and green - for cheesy Christmas effect. For the green, I was going to use white cranberry juice and color it green.
First attempt: never solidified. Put it back on the heat and stirred in a lot more agar agar. Still never solidified.
2nd attempt: started from scratch, used a crap load of agar agar, decided to throw in the green food coloring only when it showed signs of solidifying. It never did.
3rd attempt: decided it might be the white cranberry juice. Decided to use sugar dissolved in water and a crap load of agar agar. Well, it worked. Much much too well.
But I had my jello cubes, and no more days and no more agar agar, so I forged ahead.
I am fine with failure (obviously, otherwise I wouldn't put this stuff on the web), mostly I learn something in the process and turn around and try the dish with modifications again. This time, though, the failure didn't inspire future attempts. Maybe there's a lesson in there about white cranberry juice. But I think the take-away lesson today for all you kids at home - don't bother.
My sis and I picked up these handy dandy little wallet sized guides to environmentally friendly seafood eating a few years back at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and have been blissfully whipping them out in restaurants and fish stores ever since. The fish are organized into three lists: Good, OK, and Avoid, depending on their abundance and the method in which they are caught or farmed.
What we didn't realize, however, is that the Monterey Bay Aquarium is even cooler than we thought because these guides are regional. We picked up new ones at the Naples Zoo and finally noticed. And then we also noticed we could go online and print out ones that are specific to the Northeast. So now we have a little collection - west coast, southeast, and the relevant one: northeast.
So go on, all y'all environmentally conscientious eaters: Monterey Bay Aquarium has taken a lot of the work and research and remembering out of ordering seafood and fish. Also included is a lot of helpful information, about how they reach their conclusions and what it all means.