Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

Every now and then it is good for a cook's spiritual welfare to return the the greatest bit of restaurant humor in the history of the world, by the world's best comedy troupe ever. And it hast Carol Cleveland!!!!!!! Happy Birthday, Mr. Cleese!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Out Of Our Gourds

L to R: Astronaut L. Gourdon Cooper, Grandma Gourdon (after my Grandmere) and Chief Engineer Gourdi LaForge, Thunderbird 4 pilot Gourdon Tracy, Charles George "Chinese" Gourdon of Khartoum, and Chef Gourdon Ramsay because he's supposed to be an enourmous schwanzstucker.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Cannot Live Without Books. - Thomas Jefferson

I love books. All books. I have a particular fondness for cookbooks, as you can tell by the sidebar. So the gift of a cookbook is something to be taken seriously. When it comes from your Mother-in-Law even more seriously. When it's for your daughter, the burgeoning pastry chef, really really. But Martha Frakking Stewart?!?! Well, I couldn't let that go unaddressed.

The question is: do I scan it and add it to my official cookbook collection?

The Brussel Sprout Emporium

To market, to market, a gallop a trot . . .
I firmly believe that every community deserves a vibrant public market, but with apologies to those who grew up here the Broadway Market isn't it. It hasn't been in the over 30 years I've been aware of it. Whether it ever was as I have been told, or just memories of childhood filtered by the passage of time, I cannot tell. What is certain is that the combination of urban flight and the rise of of the supermarket have combine to eliminate many traditional public markets.

They are not all gone. Cleveland's West Side Market has been around since 1840, and is still going strong. I plan to get there if I am ever in Cleveland when it's neither New Year's nor an event I am cooking for. My favorite, for now, is the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia (Pictured Above). You can get prepared foods here, from Amish to Chinese, and sundries of all types. But, the best stuff is fresh: Meat, Produce, Poultry, and especially the Fish. It is so fresh you can have breakfast mere feet away from a fish counter and smell nothing!

Unfortunately, many places are not so lucky. We cannot even get fish that fresh at local fishmongers.

Still, there is some hope. We do have a variety of smaller farmer's markets in the area. They are only open, at best, a few days a week, but the least of them are worth patronizing.

Our favorite is the North Tonawanda Farmers Market on Robinson Road. It's open Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday from 7 to 1. Saturdays are the best - the most vendors are there. There is a decent array of seasonal fruits and vegetables at fabulous prices. Do browse before buying as prices vary. The photos at right give you an idea of it.

There is just something missing.

Andrew Galarneau did a nice overview of farmers market's in Western New York by county back in the BuffNews back in June, but the article also highlighted local meat producers/purveyors. We have local eggs and poultry, and plenty of dairy products - cheese, yoghurt and more. If we could find a way to entice these good folks to show up at the farmer's markets, I think I'd be one happy pup!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When life gives you lemons

ask for salt and tequila!

For a couple of years we have been promising the girls a stop at Earl's Drive In on Route 16 in Chaffee, NY. The first time we thought about it was on the way back from our August '08 camping trip to Allegany. But, they had just reopened and were not taking plastic ( the cash was gone after a week of camping). The next time was on the way back from this year's camping trip, but Daddy was seriously under the weather.

So, on Columbus Day, we thought we'd head down that way, check out a sundries store in Machias that Trish had fond memories of. Well, we had to pass Earl's on the way to Machias, and they are closed on Mondays. A curse of the Southtowns. We have run into the same thing with Coyote Cafe and a favorite used book store in Hamburg.

Then we went to the sundries store which now caters to home plumbers and hunters. The fun is gone. We passed several other eateries that would meet our needs - all closed on Monday. We came across a poultry farm on 240 south of OP, but the main store was closed on Monday - though we did score some great locally grown garlic. Eckl's - closed on Monday, too.

But, El Canelo was open, and we enjoyed!

A special thank you to Donna Ruhlman, wife of what's his name. It turns out that the geeks in 16 Candles were right, and "Ohhh, black and white would just capture the moment"! When it comes to food photos!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

After Apple Picking

Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
- Robert Frost
The last days of apple season are upon us, cider and jellies and jams are being made, but the pickings are slim in the orchards. The weather of late has been lousy, so we delayed our annual picking session knowing that many of our favorite varieties were pretty much done for the year.

In an omen of our success, I unearthed a saved copy of my friend Andrew Galarneau's article in the BuffNews about local U-picks. The girls used it to stuff the scarecrows they were making this morning. It didn't matter.

No matter how much we discuss other options, we alwaws end up at Murphy Orchards in Burt. It's a known quantity. They have pigs and goats and cows and ducks and chickens to feed. There are horses at an adjacent farm that love getting fed an apple.

It was actually a stop on the underground railroad.

The Northern Spys were really good, and we even found a few of the last of the Macs. Best of all, Mrs. Murphy herself gave me permission to snag a couple of hunks of fruit wood cuttings for this seasons smoking need. So for dinner, I pan-fried a couple of chops from that wonderful half-pig I bought this fall, with some fresh applesauce - no sugar needed, with some spaghetti squash we bought at the NT farmers market last week.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Spoon Full of Medicine Helps the Sugar Go Down

If you are bitter at heart, sugar in the mouth will not help you - Yiddish Proverb

I am getting annoyed during my daily cup of Morning Joe, and it's not because Pat Buchanan is yelling way too early in the morning. No it's because of two ads running all the time - Big Food apologist's efforts in one way or another to convince us that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a wonderful thing to load your diet with.

The first commercial is from, which is in turn one of many scam sites run by the Center for Consumer Freedom which in turn is run by Berman and Company - a PR firm. CCF is sponsored by Big Food, Big Beverage and Big Tobacco, among others. It has taken stands against lowering the blood alcohol content for DWI, against smoking bans in restaurants, and in favor of trans fats and mercury laden fish.

Now these mega-industries have a voice that shoud be heard, but the lady doth protest too much, methinks. It reminds me of Martin Short's character Nathan Thurm with his ash dangling cigarette, or these guys from King Corn.

The first ad features a faux police line-up with a sugar cube, a bear of honey and a corn stalk (representing HFCS). The tag line is that a sugar is a sugar. The problem is that the argument is specious. Yes, for the most part a sugar is a sugar, but that's not the real argument against HFCS. Sure some may misinterpret it, but the real argument is about our total corn policy. We are growing megatons of otherwise inedible corn, paid for by our Federal tax dollars, that make HFCS both ubiquitous and insidious because it's artificially cheap. That is just one issue of a broad topic that has been dealt with by better writers than I, Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle among them.

The second ad comes from a group called Americans Against Food Taxes. It features a middle class lady with two kids. She is driving a Ford Something in good shape. The neighbor's vehicle is in good shape too. In short, a nice middle class, if older, suburb. The punch line is that a penny an ounce pop tax may not matter in Washington, but it does in real America. Lady, if a 35¢ increase in the cost of a 2 liter bottle of pop is gonna have that much impact on your food budget, you shouldn't be buying it anyway. It is a luxury, not a food necessity.

The problem is that the other side is also disingenuous. If taxing pop and juice drinks is a way to raise revenue, deal with it as that. If, however, it is trying to improve health, picking on those two is not enough. There are sugars everywhere. Start by eliminating corn subsidies, and make healthier stuff more available. Then we may be able to spend less on medicines to treat the result illness.

How about a "Dumb Choices" label.

OK, I am out of big "ous" words. It's just food for thought!

Food Comic for Today

Nothing like trying to get your kids to eat good food, especially when you have one who won't eat the crust of crappy bread - the only bread she eats - unless it's toasted. But she will eat lox and an everyting bagel on Sundays.

I have no answers, and I am not sure there are any, but keep exposing your kids to good food and please don't treat food like medicine! YMMV

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -