Monday, October 12, 2009

Another Bread Baking Post

I finally got around to getting to the bookstore, where I haven't been pretty much ever since I started the whole thing (which I still am completely loving, and if you say splatgirl when you register, I'll get a credit!). But I was jonesing for the new Peter Reinhart Whole Grain Breads cookbook, and the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book, which I am perhaps the last person on earth to get, so I had to bite the bullet and fork over
Turns out the Artisan Bread in 5 book is really not worth it for me, as there's nothing particularly special about it once you get the whole make dough in bulk and give it a long retard in the fridge thing. But the Peter Reinhart book is great, complete with all of the obsessive but very useful detail and technique I was familar with from my first P.R. book, Bread Bakers Apprentice. And so I set right out to make something from it.
I chose the 100% rye bread recipe to start with because rye is Boy's favorite and he was so patient and polite about my fruit and nut bread experiments despite being not so much with the fruit and nut breads.
Anyway, I think it came out pretty darn awesome.
whole grain rye
These loaves were dense and flavorful and the PERFECT vehicle for a little reuben dip action. Or a meals' worth of reuben dip action, actually. Sliced thin and toasted just a bit, it was like what you wish those stale little square cocktail rye breads would be but never are. It was cocktail rye done fabulously, deliciously right, and was amazing just toasted and slathered with butter and for a ham and cheese, too. Next time, I'm going to make sure to have some lox and cream cheese in the house, because that would have been even better.
Bake on, friends, bake on!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Happy Meat

So it's Monday and I think I'm just the tiniest bit crabby because it's been raining for like a week straight which is keeping me from getting the stuff done outside that I'm feeling anxious about, what with it being fall in Minnesota and all. Because we feel something is urgent when it gets to be this time of year here, don't we?
So with that in mind you'll forgive me when I start rant about food, right? But more importantly, you'll listen, because this applies to YOU. To me. To everyone.

First, let's start off with something happy. Happy meat! Steaks from the cow who wandered around and lived it's life at the farm next door, butchered in the town next door to that and sold at the same place it was raised. It doesn't get any better, and I can't wait to grill these up:
gale woods beef

So then, did you happen to see this article in the NYT? It's about the disgusting practices of industrial-scale slaughterhouses and commercial beef processors that led to a St. Cloud woman's permanent disability due to e. coli infection, and it will make you want to barf and it will make you angry. But it's important and enlightening, so go read it, I beg you.

So it's good, and DISGUSTING, to know exactly what goes into those "meat" products you buy at the store. And the players in this game can and do stand around pointing fingers at each other and fighting about who's responsibility testing for e. coli contamination should be, but THAT IS ONLY PART OF THE PROBLEM. What I think the article misses is the fact that industrial agricultural practices, namely feed-lot "finishing"of beef cattle, are what gave us pathogenic e. coli in the first place, and if we'd quit doing that and quit eating that, we'd have a lot less to worry about. Likewise anything that's been slaughtered and processed on an industrial scale. IT NEEDS TO STOP, and the only way I can see that it might, like ever, is if we stop it.

So MY point here is this: lets redouble our efforts to get off industrially raised and processed meat, eh? I know, it's more expensive to buy pasture raised, non-industrually produced meats and it probably takes more effort to get them, but it has an impact that goes way beyond being safer and healthier and I think it's the single most important thing you can do with your own personal part of the food chain and your food dollars...right after getting hooked up with CSA or local farmers markets for your produce.

I've been doing fairly OK with the happy-meat-only goal I set for myself a few years ago. Not 100%, but probably 80% of the meat I buy these days is pasture raised, organic and most often local. What's harder is the eating, because it's harder to control for that when you're eating out and I'm not the kind of girl who would ever say no to a nice hunk of slow-smoked prime rib or pork shoulder at a BBQ with friends, even if it did come from Sams Club and an animal that stood around in a crowded poop swamp for months eating antibiotic-laced GMO corn. So while I've never been a big restaurant steak or burger eater anyway, there's always those times that I just have to give myself a break. And then I might just try and find a way to start a conversation about the provenance of meat, because I'm an annoying bitch that way.

So, how about setting a happy meat goal for yourself and your family? For me, yes, it does cost more and take a bit more of my time, but the result of those facts at my house is that we eat less meat, which is a GOOD thing, even if it does take a bit of getting used to and a change in thinking. It's totally do-able, people! If you need a place to start, check out the Local Harvest website or these local sustainable farming resources.

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