Archive | May 2014

The Simplest Solution to the Greek Yogurt Problem

Modern Farmer has an interesting piece on Greek Yogurt’s Dark Side detailing the problem of disposing tens of millions of gallons of acid whey and some of the solutions that are being developed to make use of it. The central problem is that making Greek style yogurt produces more byproduct than traditional yogurt. That is because more liquid is strained in order to concentrate the protein content. You need to concentrate the protein content because you are using less fat and you want that lush texture and mouthfeel that traditional low-fat yogurt lacks.

There is a very simple solution to the problem. Stop eating Greek style yogurt. Stop avoiding dairy fat. Eat whole milk yogurt. It is more nutritious, it tastes better and it probably better for weight management and is not associated with heart disease. Problem solved.

The Heretic’s Guide to Vegan Cookery

First published on  Skepteco

by Graham Strouts

Update:Andy Murray has emailed me with glad tidings- he tells me “the book has just been picked up by a publisher last month so it’ll be coming out later this year as a updated, improved, more recipes and photos and a more cooky cookbook. Also on kindle too.”
Watch this space for updates!
***

More from the Zone5 Archives. This book is too tasty to resist!
Originally Posted on 12 November 2009 on the now-deceased Zone5 blog

Book Review: The Heretic’s Guide to Vegan Cookery
Modern animal-free recipes from around the world with added musings inspired by the Isle of Avalon According to Harmonically Challenged Cook
Andy Murray
Warning! Not suitable for Breatharians
The Good Elf Press 2009
187pp

Heretics guide to Vegan cookery

Astrology is an amazing tool to run your life by, without having to waste time with the fraudulent pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo of Science. Astrology explains wars, thunderstorms and plagues. We can even use it historically. For example, if we know exactly when and where Queen Elizabeth was born, we can find out exactly who she was without having to waste time on fictitious history books. With it we can even discover why Einstein was so damn clever. Astrology is way better than sex.

You don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy Andy Murray’s brilliant Heretic’s Guide, which is packed with dozens of tasty simple recipes to satisfy even the most hardened omnivore at least some of the time, you don’t even need to have any great interest in cooking or even food. That is because for our amusement and philosophical delectation there are numerous passages in between the recipes giving us fascinating and hilarious perspectives from the Mecca of New Age beliefs in Britain, the town of Glastonbury near where the author lives.

While waiting for the pumpkin soup to cook or in between making preparations for the Hazelnut and Celery Risotto you will be able to work up an appetite by rolling around clutching your belly after reading the sure -to-become-classic passages “Reiki Reiki Rise and Shine” “Cooking with Astrology” or “Breeding Gurus for Profit”.

This book has it all really- great advice on cooking with fresh ingredients and all the usual good reasons to grow your own and buy local; loads of easy to follow recipes including a big choice of soups, salads and dips; and inspirational chapter on cooking in the great outdoors, including a useful guide to wild food; Posh Things to Do with Vegetables; Main Meals; Side Dishes and Extras; Desserts, and Cakes and Biscuits.

And then the alternative Contents covers everything else- Cults, Gurus, Satanism, Religion, Crop Circles, Homeopathy- nothing is sacred and nothing is spared the sharp rib-splitting egg-whisk of Murray’s irreverence.

Homeopathic Cookery Doubters of this form of cookery pour scorn on the fact that a diner might receive a drop of gravy and a shred of carrot on a plate. How can this be a meal, they ask? What they fail to understand is that carbon,the building block of all life, has a memory. A potentised meal maintains a complete carbon hologram, the information of the whole, even down to the smallest atomic sum of its parts.A homeopathic amount of food is of course more than sufficient to provide all the nutritional benefits that would be expected from a plateful of food, and puts paid to any shrill cries of fraud. Filthy skeptics who come to the homeopathic table having already made up their tiny minds will throw down their napkins and walk away still believing what they believe to be true, and little can be done to change their wrongness.

Even Murray’s own sacred Creed of Veganism is given the once-over. This is something I know a little about, because I once lived in a vegan community on the Welsh Borders. I was not especially into veganism per se and went there to learn to grow vegetables; I happily lived a vegan diet however, but was aware of an acute divide between some of my fellow communards, who seemed to be at each others throats all the time.

On one extreme there were the the vegans who were happy to eat anything so long as it was vegan, including skip food, vegan chocolate from Malaysia (or somewhere) and chip butties. This group of vegans were also keen to give over some of the best land we had to rescued sheep and aging dogs, and generally turn the place into an animal sanctuary.

All this tended to jar somewhat with the second group who apart from being rather snobby in their choice of edibles- Vegan Organic Wholefoods only, no white flour allowed, lots of Miso- didn’t seem to like animals at all anywhere near them. Wild animals were OK in their own wild homes, but no pets, farm animals or incontinent retired donkeys of any kind permitted.

Murray gives a total of 7 Vegan groups, including the Fat Vegan, the Sensitive Vegan and the Style Vegan, but presumable fits into he first category of The Common Vegan:

The most widespread of all vegans, the common vegan has been quietly animal free for years and still hasn’t died. Usually healthy, fit and happy, they tend to be quite normal, although sometimes a little willowy to stand in a strong wind.

For Murray, veganism might well play a role in a sustainable future, but is mainly just about bloody good food. While no longer a Vegan myself, my animal-free taste buds have been re-awakened by the Heretics Guide and who knows, so may some of my Chakras.

And with that I think Ill go and make a quick Potato Rosti.

SNAP Challenge Gourmet: Sneaky Blender Tomato Sauce

A recent report from the USDA makes a number of disconcerting observations about American’s relationship with vegetables. Some of their concerns, I don’t share. I see no problem with pairing heaping portions of dark green, leafy vegetables with generous amounts of fat and proper seasoning with good salt. The broad brush strokes however should be distressing to anyone. When we are talking about the average vegetable intake of the average American, we are talking about ketchup, salsa, nacho toppings, pizza toppings, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce and lettuce and tomato on burgers. For most, the closest they are getting to a dark green vegetable is the pickle.

In order to help remedy that situation (in some small way) while meeting people where they are at, I offer a tomato sauce recipe that can be used on pizza or pasta. It was designed for the North Hartford Community Kitchen as has helped dozens of picky eaters increase their vegetable consumption without complaint or constraint. The recipe is dirt cheap, dirt simple and a dirty trick on those that don’t like squash, arugula, peas, carrots, green beans, lima beans, parsley or whatever else you want to inflict on them.

2 28 oz Can Tomatoes, crushed
10 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Cup Mixed Frozen Vegetable (thawed)
2 Cup Frozen Butternut Squash (thawed)
1 Cup Arugula, rough chop
1 Cup Italian Parsley, rough chop
2 Cup Fresh Basil, rough chop
½ Cup Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt

1. In a pan heat the garlic in the olive oil for 3 minutes without browning.
2. Pour the garlic/oil mixture into a blender or food processor with the tomatoes.
3. Blend for a minute. Add the other ingredients one at a time, blending for 30 seconds each until mixture is smooth.

Downloadable pdf recipe card

Speaking of salsa y ketchup.


Bon Apetit!

Ask a Farmer: Katie Olthoff, Squaw Creek Farm

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Katie and Bart Olthoff have been raising turkeys since 2009 in Squaw Creek Iowa. Bart Olthoff’s family has been farming in that part of Iowa for five generations and he was working for the USDA when they were approached by a local turkey farmer who decided to expand their business by investing in young, local farmers rather than expanding their own operation. Squaw Creek Farm. This is how Katie describes their operation on their website:

Twenty thousand (20,000) male baby turkeys (poults) come to us when they are 1 day old. We unload them into a big, toasty, 90 degree barn called the “brooder.” They live there until they are about 5 weeks old. Inside the barn, there are automated feeders and waterers, which are triggered by the turkeys, so they have unlimited access to these. The temperature in the barn is controlled by a thermostat, and there are vents that open and close automatically to help adjust it if needed. The turkeys are not in cages – instead they are on sawdust bedding from a local sawmill. For the first two weeks, chores take a few hours each morning, because of the supplemental feeders and waterers that we fill by hand. We also chore the poults at night, but this is usually a quick walk through to make sure all equipment is running smoothly and that the turkeys seem comfortable.

Around 5 weeks of age, we move the turkeys to one of our two finisher sites. The finisher sites have two 528 foot buildings, so the turkeys have plenty of room to spread out as they grow. These barns also have automated feeders and waterers and again, the temperature is controlled for the turkeys’ comfort. Our finishers are tunnel ventilated, meaning that there are huge fans at one end that suck air through, creating up to a 10 mph breeze in the barns when necessary. (Most livestock barns have curtains instead and rely on the natural breezes to cool animals.) We also have misters that cool the birds in the summer.

The turkeys stay in the finishers until they are ready for market at 19 1/2 weeks. Until then, my husband chores them twice a day, walking through to check equipment, pick up dead, and look for any signs of distress or disease. At the time they go to market, they average about 41 pounds. These are not your Thanksgiving birds! Our birds are processed for lunch meat and ground meat. In fact, the processing plant we use supplies turkey to all the Subways west of the Mississippi River!

In the meantime, we would have already started a new flock in the brooder. At 5 weeks, they would move to the OTHER finisher site. In between flocks, there is about 4 weeks to clean and disinfect, and that is actually the busiest time for us. So, every 9 weeks, we get a new flock of 20,000, and there is no break in between! We raise almost 6 flocks, or 120,000 turkeys, in one year!

On March 14, Food and Farm Discussion Lab held our first Ask a Farmer Q&A with Katie. The questions came from FAFDL members. The conversation has been condensed, lightly edited and organized for continuity.*

THE BASICS

FAFDL: What do you feed the turkeys?

Katie: Turkeys eat a mixture of corn and soybean meal, with vitamins, fats, bone meal, and bakery meal mixed in. We do not mix feed on site. We have a feed mill nearby (owned by a group of 12 turkey farmers) where our feed is mixed.

In the grocery store there are different size birds. How is that managed on the farm? Is there natural variance in weights or will you feed groups for more or less days to get desired size bird? Do the female turkeys reach laying stage during your operation? If so, are eggs considered a bonus, or a chore to deal with?

Great question. We raise male birds – toms – for further processing. Our birds are over 40 pounds when they go to market. Most whole birds are hens. And I’m not sure how the weight variance happens – I imagine it’s the age they are sent to market. Modern breeding has developed birds that are very similar in size.

The occasional female slips through. There are sometimes eggs at market time. The load out crew (mostly Hispanic) sometimes takes them home to eat. We’ve never eaten one.

Are the males hatched on your farm or delivered from an outside hatchery ?

Our birds come from a hatchery about 5 hours away. Delivered at 1 day old.

Is there any seasonal production differences / demands (Thanksgiving) ? Or do they balance the demand and slaughter over the whole year?

Because our birds are toms for further processing, we have no seasonal variances.  Read More…

Star Wars, Tatooine Fennel and a Parallax View of American Cuisine

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Screen Shot 2014-05-04 at 8.41.00 PMPrinciple photography for Star Wars began in the Tunisian desert in March of 1976. Just as location scouts were tasked with finding an other worldly landscape here on Earth to transport us to a galaxy far far away, some clever prop master was given the task with creating prop food for Luke’s Aunt Beru to prepare for lunch. Instead of imagining some out landish vegetable and trying to make a realistic model that could be broken up by hand without giving away the game, they wisely chose bulbs of fennel. As a ten year old kid, growing up in Suburbville, USA it sure looked like a vegetable from Tatooine to me, as I’m sure it did to countless others. Real fennel was far more realistic than what a model maker could have crafted, while completely unfamiliar. I doubt Aunt Beru’s soup seemed quite so intergalactic to French audiences, but it says a lot about the transformation of American cooking in the intervening years that fennel was sufficiently exotic at the time to be cast in the role of representing Tatooine cuisine. In the background, you can also see some root vegetables that looks like salsify, a vegetable that remains largely and sadly unkown, four decades later.

In the US in 1976, fennel might have been on the menus of Chez Panisse or the Four Seasons. It would have been found in recipes on those rare kitchen bookshelves with the odd tome by MLK Fisher, James Beard, Jane Grigson, Elizabeth David or Julia Child, but it would have been nearly impossible to find in American supermarkets at the time. Today, fennel is easily found anywhere and shaved fennel salads are a staple of stylish middlebrow restaurants.

If asked what fruits and vegetables today could fill that role today, I can think of a bunch that could pass as delectables from the Degoba system. Looking over the list though, the beauty of fennel was that it was unfamilar and ordinary looking at the same time. And while these earthly delights might seem too exotic for a humble moisture farmer’s lunch on a desert planet, they could still be familiar to viewers of any number of Food Network or Travel Channel shows. Given the role Asian markets play in the decision making that goes into planning today’s blockbusters, I’m not sure how you would cast a fruit or vegetable from another planet there days.

HAPPY STAR WARS DAY!
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Dragon Fruit (Thomas Quine)


Buddha’s Hand (edible eden )
Read More…