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Page Turners

16 Feb

So what have I been reading?! I am trying to read lots about food to keep my research for my senior project fresh and up to date. My sister recommended this book, and it is so on point with the research I am doing. I highly recommend¬†Animal Vegetable Miracle to anybody interested in food, and where the heck it comes from! She explains how the role of the woman has changed and this influenced how we cook. The recipes that I have from my grandparents, great grandparents, and great-great grandparents, are from a time when the women’s role was to stay home and cook. When women got jobs in the work force (yipeee) we let the quality of food we eat slip, hello TV dinners (oh no…) This is a small portion of the book, but it put everything in perspective for me, why we eat the way we eat, and how America got here. Don’t get me wrong, I am so happy that I get to work (as an equal with men), but I can’t let these recipes be forgotten! Kingsolver explains that cooking doesn’t take long and we can have our cake and eat it too! The main point of the book is Kingsolver and her family eats local food, only local food, for 1 year! They eat the food of their land and the book is the journey through the seasons, and how they survive.

Okay, so I won’t brag about this book anymore, I dote on Michael Pollan enough. But I would say my project is loosely based on his rule, “Don’t eat anything you grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” This is hard for me because I love many foods that I imagine my grandmother wouldn’t recognize (uh…chili cheese fritos? Or anything ending in ‘ito’ for that matter). Just read this book. okay? Watch Food Inc., just fall in love with this guy, you won’t regret it.

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Snapshot

10 Feb

I went home today for a quick visit with my folks. While I was home I wanted to go through a lot of the old pictures my parents have, tucked away in boxes, and see what I could find. With my families help (my mom, dad, and grandpa) I got a lot of great information today. I plan to include some photographs in my cookbook. The cookbook is really a painting of my genealogy through food, and the photographs help to introduce the main characters. I found a treasure trove of photos, including this one, of a typical Thanksgiving spread at Grandma Ellis’s home (that would be my moms, moms, mom, or my great-grandma, famous for her chocolate gravy).

I found it really inspiring that someone took this food photography, way back then. That someone appreciated this home cooked meal enough to snap a picture and document the holiday. We don’t think much of taking a picture of our meals today, because with digital photography photos are of endless supply. But whoever took this photo used one of probably only twelve photos they had on the roll, so obviously this was of some importance to them. And of the other photos of family laughing and eating that day I appreciate this one, because it is a little glimpse into the food of our nations past. Notice the vegetables, they are probably all from their garden, canned during the summer just for this occasion. The food on the table all looks so familiar, turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, but they way that it got to this table is probably more foreign to us then we can begin to imagine.

This photo is such a gem, and I can’t wait to find a way to incorporate it into my book.

Thanksgiving at Grandma Ellis's

New Inspiration

13 Jan

A colleague sent me a link to a food photographer to check out. I hate to share the link with you because her stuff is so good you will defiantly quit reading my blog after you see her work. I give up. It’s too good, I quit.

Enjoy the eye food feast that Beth Galton provides.

What Will I Eat This Year?

10 Jan

As we enter a new year I wonder, what will I eat this year? I read a wonderful article on the huffington post that predicted what food will gain in popularity, and what will diminish. Here is the forecast:

Diminishing in popularity:

Superfruits: ya, we’re over it pomegranate, you were too messy anyway.

Cupcakes: They’re cute, but I think it’s just overdone.

Bacon: Thank goodness, our arteries were crying.

Gaining popularity:

Gluten Free: Finally our gluten free friends will find more options

Street Food: If you live in a city that is lucky enough to have street food you will be seeing more clever options for meals on the go

Meatless Meals: yipppeeeee for Meatless Monday

Probiotics: Your digestive system will thanks you

Growing you own: I am not able to grown my own, but I have a hard working sister who provides me with fresh eggs and yummy canned goods from her garden. It’s healthy and tasty, and eating what’s in season is better for you and saves on fuel to transport produce. Here is another reason to eat local.

And lastly simpler, more wholesome foods. I think that is what I am going to eat this year. Keep it simple, keep it homemade, and keep it wholesome. Like Michael Pollan says, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” And I think the most important thing I am learning from my experience researching family recipes is, “Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize.” I can’t imagine my Great-Grandma-Ellis noshin’ on a dorritio, it just didn’t happen.

I have to say I am very excited about this trend forecast. Especially the meatless part, and who ever imagined that bacon would be on a downward slope.

p.s. My mom just posted some guidelines on her blog for what you should aim to eat daily, and weekly, check it out here!

Classic Cooking

2 Jan

Sometimes it is interesting to investigate the origins of family recipes. After asking around I have found a few great cookbooks that many of our family favorites originated from. The recipes may have changed some over time, or maybe the cookbook is long forgotten and all we have is a scrap of paper with the recipe scribbled down. I have found a few classic cookbooks that contain some of my favorite family recipes, these cookbooks are good standards to just have around.

I found this in the front of Paul Prudhomme's cookbook, looks like I gave this to my mom when I was a wee 5 years old, I had good taste way back then.

 

This is a favorite cookbook, and a classic, Paul Prudhomme. My favorite is the Michigan Pasty Pie (I am cooking that tonight, pictures coming soon) It is quite possibly the best pasty pie you will ever have. So flavorful and moist you will forget that anyone ever suggested gravy on a pasty pie.

Michigan Miners Pasties, if you don't know the history of this particular Michigan favorite check out the story here.

You know it's a good recipe when there are sticky finger prints and seasonings stuck all over the pages.

My grandfather recommended this book, another classic! I found a copy for $3.20 used! Martha Dixon was a popular chef from Lansing Michigan in the 1950's and 1960's. She hosted a television show and had this wonderful cookbook. My favorite family recipe from this cookbook is the Country House Pancakes. It is a yeast pancake, very thin, and bubbly. Like no pancake you've ever had! We call them Silver Dollar Pancakes at my house (somehow over time the name changed). I have spent lots of time looking through this cookbook and I can't wait to try more recipes from it!

You can almost smell the syrup and butter, can't you?

Page Turners

13 Dec

I am trying to do lots of research on food and the history of food for my senior show! Wanted to share a few books with you that I have been reading for inspiration and research. Warning: reading these books can cause extreme hunger.

History of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint Samat

What I have learned: when tomatoes were first discovered people hated the taste of them!! I know, how could this be? Lots of great information on the origin of all the foods we eat. We often forget that not all the fruits and vegetables and spices we use are native to the United States.

The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky

What I have learned: This book is a collection of recipes/stories written by writers of the Works Progress Administration. It details recipes from all over the US like Maine Hot Buttered Rum, and Nebraska Buffalo Barbecue. My favorite chapter details how to properly order food at a soda shop. For example Nervous Pudding (jello), Shake a White (plain milkshake), Break it and Shake it (malted milk with egg) or Cow Juice (milk).

Read a good book about food lately? Let me know! I want to keep reading in preparation for my own cookbook!

Food Photography Inspiration

12 Dec

When you think of food photography you should probably think of Edward Weston. He was the original food photographer, famous for his sexy bell pepper photographs that critics often compare to nudes. In 1930 Weston began photographing up close images of fruits and veggies. The vegetables almost appear to be something else entirely, exotic and alluring. I would say he is a good reference for any foodie or food photographer enthusiast! Enjoy!

Cabbage

Onion

Pepper