It is pretty groundbreaking to finally see this point of view presented in the pages of the Times:
We are a third thing, a distinct mode of transportation, requiring different practices and different rules. This is understood in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where nearly everyone of every age cycles. These cities treat bikes like bikes. Extensive networks of protected bike lanes provide the infrastructure for safe cycling. Some traffic lights are timed to the speed of bikes rather than cars. Some laws presume that in a bike-car collision, the heavier and more deadly vehicle is at fault. Perhaps as New York City’s bike share program is rolled out, these will become the case here.
Via Second Avenue Sagas, I saw this NY Times piece by Bill Keller profiling Sam Schwartz, who has a plan to reduce congestion and fund transit in NYC:
You do not have to be an engineer to appreciate the logic. The scheme puts the heaviest onus on the solo driver who has ready access to a train, and lowers the cost for drivers who have no alternative. Unlike earlier plans that amounted to a punishing tax on commuters from outlying communities, the Schwartz plan has more affluent neighborhoods (like the plusher parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens) pay a fair share. Though the main purpose is to underwrite public transport, the plan sets aside money to make the highways more bearable — in part so trucks will use them and avoid the populous business districts. Unlike plans that are all about cars and trains, Schwartz’s includes some lovely optional extras for the green at heart — graceful new bike-pedestrian bridges connecting the gentrified waterfront neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey to Manhattan.
Schwartz calculates that his system would bring an extra $1.2 billion a year to the M.T.A. — enough to raise the subways and buses back to first-world standards. The plan promises 35,000 permanent new jobs, a sharp drop in traffic, and for a majority of travelers an actual reduction in costs.
If only such dreams could come true. More seriously, Schwartz’s plan (which the profile does not offer in detail) sounds like a comprehensive scheme for addressing most of the city’s transit needs, immediate and long-term. Maybe someone has finally found the right package to make all these reforms appealing enough to gain widespread approval.
That’s the topic of this thoughtful piece by Mark Bittman, but the point isn’t just the familiar fact of the hidden high (and highly subsidized) costs of processed food in America. Bittman reflects more generally on how regular ingredients can be bought cheaply and prepared easily to make healthy delicious meals at home (which, coincidentally, is this blog’s wheelbox). His overall point is that “the alternative to fast food is not necessarily organic food, any more than the alternative to soda is Bordeaux”:
The alternative to soda is water, and the alternative to junk food is not grass-fed beef and greens from a trendy farmers’ market, but anything other than junk food: rice, grains, pasta, beans, fresh vegetables, canned vegetables, frozen vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, bread, peanut butter, a thousand other things cooked at home — in almost every case a far superior alternative.
Brought to my attention by the ever-informative Adam Conover's google feed.
This is not exactly food-related, but today the NYC announced that Alta Bike Share won the contract for the NYC Bike Share. For anyone not in NYC (or just not following this story), the City put out a call for bids last fall, and since then there has been much speculation about what a share for a city as large as New York will look like. Now we have it:
Within the service area, which will stretch from the Upper West Side and Upper East Side to Bed Stuy and Greenpoint, New Yorkers will have access to 10,000 public bikes at about 600 stations.
Annual memberships will cost under $100. Members will be able to make trips of up to 30 minutes at no charge.
The stations will be sited with input from local communities, and the City Council will hold hearings on the program.
The system must operate without public subsidy.
I confess, this sounds incredible ambitious, and I wonder how realistic it is. The Paris bike share was be much more costly than initially predicted, but I understand that subsequent programs have learned much from the mistakes made there (bikes are apparently much harder to steal in other cities). And of course, even if the rates have to go up, the program would be a success if it convinced people to at least try biking, and then maybe encouraged people to buy their own. Whatever happens, I’m excited to see how this plays out.
Thanks, Angie, for sending me your friend Tom’ mom’s crust recipe!
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup (half a stick) butter or margarine
1/2 tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp. water
Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening and margarine by hand (with a pastry blender or using a fork and knife) until well blended. In a cup, beat the egg with a fork, then add in the vinegar and water. Stir to combine, then pour into the flour mixture. Combine well by hand with a fork. Divide into two equal balls, and then chill for at least one hour before using. Should make enough for one two-crusted pie.
For the filling, I used 3.5 pounds of CSA peaches, unpeeled but scrubbed and then sliced, tossed with a mixture of 1/3 a cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 3 Tablespoons flour, and the juice of 1 lime.
When you consider the Twinkie as a product — which it truly is, in every sense of the term — it’s not that hard to fathom its link to the world economy. Twinkies’ ingredients are the products of a rural-industrial complex, made from a web of chemicals and raw materials produced by…
“We were and remain right to uphold nature, wildlife and the rural landscape as places critical to celebrate and preserve. But what we realize now, many of us anyway, is that cities and towns – the communities where for millennia people have aggregated in search of more efficient commerce and sharing of resources and social networks – are really the environmental solution, not the problem: the best way to save wilderness is through strong, compact, beautiful communities that are more, not less, urban and do not encroach on places of significant natural value.”—
American environmentalists from Thoreau and John Muir onward have held country living as more desireable and superior to life in morally bankrupt towns and cities. The NRDC argues that it is time to critique and rethink the American bucolic ideal, which, in practice leads to sprawl, increased car use, and further environmental degredation. Rather we should encourage more attractive “human habitats” in the form of beautiful, livable cities in order to better protect nature.
New York City boasts less than half the US average for per capita carbon emissions: 10.6 tons versus the US average of 23.6 tons, and is the only US city where most households do not own cars (source). Clearly, any modern, relevant definition of green living must take such factors into account.
“A country that can engineer the seemingly unattainable economics of a $5 McDonald’s feast certainly has the capacity to produce a healthy meal for the same price. It’s just a matter of will — or won’t.”—
David Sirota in Why Americans can’t afford to eat healthy, arguing that the US must shift its agricultural subsidies from supporting the large-scale production of corn (used to make high fructose corn syrup) or soy (used to make low-cost vegetable oil) to other fruits and vegetables.
In Sunday’s NY Times, Mark Bittman takes this argument even further and makes the case for imposing excise taxes on unhealthy food such as soda or potato chips, applying the same rationale that US states use to justify cigarette taxes. Bittman would use excise tax revenue to subsidize healthier food.
We used our CSA peaches to make this at Anthony’s sister’s bbq over the weekend, minus the blue cheese the recipe calls for. Highly recommended. It turned out something like this (not my actual photo):
This week was the first week our CSA brought us beets. Now, at the risk of sounding like a bad vegetarian semi-hippie locavore, I must confess that I don’t really like beets. I’ve never enjoyed eating them alone or on salads, and figured that I would leave this week’s beet eating to Anthony, who likes eating beets almost as much as he hates wasting food (a lot).
At least, this is what I thought until Thursday night of this week, when Anthony and I ate dinner at our friends Susan and Troy’s apartment. Fellow CSA members who also run Fountain Studios, Troy and Susan served us some of the tastiest veggie burgers I’ve ever had. Even though they featured beets as a main ingredient, the veggie burgers had a perfectly earthy and savory flavor, as well as good texture, something that can be hard to achieve with veggie burgers.
Of course I asked for the recipe, which you can find at thekitchn.com. We made them the next day to similarly awesome results.
Rather than reproducing the recipe here, you really should just check out the original post. We followed the recipe rather closely, with only a few additions/alterations.
First, for the ingredients, we also added one chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce to the frying pan at the same time as the beets.
Second, we also added cumin and hot sauce to the burger mixture.
Third, we used breadcrumbs instead of flour to firm up the mixture. The mixture ended up looking like this:
(Note the leftover beet greens on the left. I know they’re edible; any ideas for what to do with them?)
Fourth, we made the patties a little smaller than the recipe calls for, having been warned by Troy that the patties should be a bit smaller than the bun so they don’t escape the bun after getting a little squished while eating them. While the recipe says it makes 6 burgers, we made 8.
Finally, we wanted to have firmer patties for easier frying, so we took the following steps: when the mixture was complete, we formed the patties, then dipped them into a plate filled with breadcrumbs. We then placed them in the fridge for an hour. The refrigeration made them even firmer, however if you’re in a hurry or just super hungry, this step isn’t completely necessary. When we took them out, they looked like this:
After sauteeing in olive oil, we served these burgers with cheese accompanied by a salad of CSA lettuce and cucumbers. I made a simple vinaigrette (2 parts olive oil to 1 part red wine vinegar plus a dab of french mustard, salt, pepper, and a dash of hot sauce).
All in all, a great dinner as well as an excellent use of beets!
Because Anthony’s the Prospect Park CSA treasurer, we get a full share of veggies every week for free, in addition to the fruit and egg shares we purchased. Most couples we know who participate just get a half share, as the CSA veggie output is quite high. Nonetheless, it’s a fun challenge to try and do interesting things with the greens that fill our fridge each week. I based this recipe off a similar New York Times recipe that uses asparagus.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, diced
3 scallions, white and light green parts diced
1 bunch spinach, washed and destemmed
a dash of heavy cream or whole milk
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon parmesan cheese, shredded
hot sauce, to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.
In a small cast-iron skillet, saute the garlic and scallions in olive oil at medium-low heat.
After a couple minutes, throw in the spinach and saute until wilted, then turn off the heat.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then add the cream/milk, parsley, parmesan, hot sauce, salt and pepper.
Add the egg mixture to the skillet, and gently mix.
Place the skillet in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until set but still a little bit jiggly in the center. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve the skillet-baked eggs in wedges, drizzled with olive oil and a slight coating of lemon juice.
The final product looked like this:
Verdict: garlic, parmesan, spinach, eggs, and hot sauce make an excellent combination. I will definitely try this again, with different combinations of CSA veggies.
Two weeks into our CSA and we are inundated with greens. Which is great, because it forces us to eat them. It also forces us to find things to do with them!
When our first week’s kale started to get a little yellow, I needed to find a way to cook it all quickly. Hence, my first foray into kale chip making. I used this recipe, with a couple of alterations.
kale, washed, dried, and cut or torn into small pieces
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
The process is quite simple. First, you preheat the oven to 350F. Then, once the kale is prepared, you toss it with the olive oil, salt, and the crushed red pepper flakes, and lay them down on a cookie sheet. (The Allrecipes recipe I used recommended lining the cookie sheet with parchment paper. This seems like a very good idea, except we don’t have any. I think I may buy some the next time I remember while at the store). Finally, you bake them for about 10 minutes, taking care not to let the chips burn.
This is how I laid the kale out. If you know how to make kale chips, you’ll see I made a classic rookie error here: letting the kale pieces touch each other. As I learned, this was a bad call, as the kale ended up cooking unevenly: the kale touching other kale stayed green and moist, while the kale laid out separately started to burn.
At any rate, a cook who insists on perfection the first time she prepares a dish is probably a cook who never learns anything new. Though the texture was hit-or-miss, the resulting chips tasted great, tasting somewhat like a potato chip, though with an earthier, more bitter flavor.
I served them with homemade bean burgers. All in all, an excellent kale dish to add to the repertoire.
“Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more greenhouse gas reduction than buying all locally sourced food.”—
Interesting analysis, but they’ve set up a false dichotomy here: why does it have to be one or other? Less meat + eating local ftw.
A garlic scape is the delicious early-season offshoot of a garlic plant. The scapes form curly, green tendrils that shoot out from the ground and must be plucked from the growing garlic bulbs in order to ensure their further growth. They have the additional advantage of being completely delicious, kind of a cross between a scallion and a milder version of mature garlic.
Um, here are some pictures of Anthony and me modeling garlic scapes. I’m sorry:
Yeah, we’re that cool.
OK, anyways, we only had two scapes, which is not a ton of scapes to work with (I’ll put another scape recipe I made recently up here soon that used more scapes). Therefore, I decided their best use would be in a scape pesto salad dressing.
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of one good-sized lemon
salt and pepper
To make the dressing, I chopped the scapes and crushed them and the walnuts with a mortar and pestle, the whole while cursing myself for having been too lazy to get out the food processor, which really would have been a better choice to shred the scapes. Live and learn. Anthony also helped once I got sick of crushing the scapes by hand.
After breaking down the scapes and walnuts, I added the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. I served this over a salad I made with CSA-supplied lettuce and radishes, as well as shredded parmesan.
Here’s a picture of what this looked like:
And here’s the whole meal, complete with gallo pinto (Nicaraguan rice and beans), ceviche, white wine, CSA strawberries, and cat. (We didn’t eat the cat).
So, we’ve been trying to join a neighborhood CSA ever since moving in together; we didn’t succeed until now because we never managed to get off the waiting list to buy a share. Brooklyn takes its community-supported agriculture seriously, and shares get snapped up almost immediately.
The solution presented itself when Anthony joined up with some other people in the neighborhood to start a new CSA, which they’ve named the Prospect Park CSA. Prospect Park CSA members will receive a share of produce grown at Windflower Farms in upstate New York.
Last weekend, CSA core members Anthony, Elena, and Becca went upstate for a weekend visit to Windflower Farms, and I was lucky enough to be able to tag along as well.
Windflower Farms is a small (38 acres) family farm near Saratoga Springs, NY and the Vermont border. Owned by Ted and Jan Blomgren, the farm produces a range of organic vegetables, fruits, and flowers. It’s a four hour drive from the city, though we managed to add another hour or so by getting hopelessly lost on the winding rural roads, arriving at the farm very late on Friday night.
The next morning, after meeting the Blomgren family (Ted, Jan, and their two teenaged sons Nate and Jake), Ted took us for a tour of the family farm.
The beginning of April is still too early in upstate New York for much to be growing (the last of winter’s snow cover had only recently melted). However, we did see a few shoots of garlic popping out of the ground:
Ted and Jan then put us to work in the greenhouse transplanting flower and pepper seedlings into larger beds.
Ted helped too. A Cornell agronomy researcher with deep roots in the sustainable agriculture and rural community development movements, I took advantage of working next to Ted to pepper him with questions about agricultural policy, sustainable farming, and the economics of conventional vs. organic farming.
After lunch, Ted and Jan took us on a hike up a nearby hill, where we took in views of the farm and the surrounding Taconic Hills farm country.
In the evening, the Blomgrens invited some of their farm workers over for a potluck. We ate, drank homebrewed beer, played cards, and generally made merry.
The Blomgrens are an amazing family, and their warm hospitality made me genuinely sad to leave for Brooklyn early Sunday morning.
After visiting Windflower, I am even more excited to purchase our farm share and eat their produce for the rest of the year.
I should mention another awesome aspect of the Prospect Park CSA: the graduated pricing scheme. Members pay according to household income, which means that the CSA can subsidize below-cost shares for low-income community members, and the CSA is set up to accept food stamps.
If you live in the Prospect Park/Crown Heights area and are interested in joining, sign up on the website. From past experience, I can say that these shares will probably go very quickly.
1. The beer we brewed at the last Brooklyn Mini-Skillshare at LaunchPad. It should actually be done by now but we miscalculated by leaving it in our basement storage room for 2 weeks over Christmas. I guess the temperature got lower than we thought it would down there, slowing down the fermentation process. Anyways, now that it’s under our kitchen table it seems to be coming along nicely.
3. A sourdough starter (middle, above), in which Anthony mixed water and flour in a jar, and then set it out on top of the cabinets to collect the wild yeast that apparently floats through the air. He used these directions.
4. A wild beer (right, above) consisting of a small amount of the wort from the aforementioned brew, which, adhering to the same principles as the sourdough starter, is sitting out to catch wild yeast. Unlike the conventional ale yeast we put in the big batch, the wild yeast will give the resulting beer a strong sour taste, similar to a Belgian Sour Ale.
Expect full reports when we actually get around to tasting these things!
After a few days at home over the holidays I started to go into bagel withdrawal. At this point, I’ve lived in New York long enough that midwestern supermarket bagels just don’t cut it. Also, there is very little to do at my parents’ Appalachian Ohio farmstead in the winter: the cold temperatures keep me indoors while there’s no tv or cell service and only the crappiest of Internet connections.
Therefore, I had both the time and motivation to make my first foray into bagel-making. I had actually seen this done once before four years ago when I briefly worked at a kitchen in an eco-lodge in Belize (what I was doing there, and why they were making bagels in Belize are both questions for another time).
Anyways, I asked google “how to make bagels” and found a basic wheat bagel recipe on this page, which we followed pretty much to the letter as we made the dough, let it rise, and then divided it into eighteen balls.
To shape the bagel, you roll the dough ball into six-inch ropes, then form into rings, pressing the ends together tightly while still maintaining ring uniformity. We didn’t do an amazing job at this.
The next step is to boil the rings, briefly, five at a time, for a few minutes. Once the bagels start floating, you turn them over and boil for one more minute, at which point you remove them from the water with a slotted spoon.
Next, we dipped the bagels in a mixture of salt and poppy seeds, and then baked at 375 for about 25 minutes.
All four of us (my mom, dad, Anthony, and I) agreed that the end product tasted amazing fresh out of the oven.
The appearance, however, was a different story. Some of them looked ok:
Others, less so:
While the four of us managed to snarf down a bunch of these guys while they were still warm, the recipe made 18 small bagels, so we had lots of leftovers. They tasted ok the next morning, but were dried out and gross by day #3. Lesson: make bagels in smaller batches or freeze half.
Overall, I would characterize the bagel-making experiment as a success. They weren’t that hard to make, as long as we didn’t get overly concerned with how they looked, and definitely satisfied my bagel craving.
However, now that I’m back in Brooklyn, I’ll stick with buying them fresh from the coffee shop below my apartment.
Two Novembers ago, I was working as an Elections Legal Observer for the Obama campaign at a crowded megachurch gym in a particularly rural, definitely red part of Ohio. My mom joined me for the day but, as a nonvoter (either a non-citizen or a convicted felon, take your pick), was confined to staying outside the polling place and watching the line.
The other legal observers, who came from all over the US to participate in Ohio poll-watching, got cushy slots helping college students figure out how to vote in my hometown. For whatever reason, maybe since I’m a native to the region, I got stuck out in Bush country working with elderly poll workers who were very clear how hostile they were to me.
We were there from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and then had to face an hour-long drive back home. Via NPR, we learned that Obama had won Ohio somewhere on the Route 33 Interstate. Driving at a high speed as my mother slept, I couldn’t even break out into a celebratory dance, or jump up and down or anything, and really I was so tired that my main concern was staying awake.
We pulled into my parents house just as McCain was making his concession speech, turned the radio on inside (no tv) to hear Obama’s moving victory speech, and then passed out.
The wave of euphoria that swept the nation, the feeling of belonging to the leader of the nation’s politics for the first time in my adult life, going down to DC for the inauguration, these are wonderful memories, if a little hard to really do justice to two years later.
This time around, I’ve been less involved, limited mostly to staying informed and voting in New York for the first time. (This is partly because of my new job responsibilities, and partly because there aren’t any close elections to get involved with). Oh, I also signed Jimmy McMillan of the Rent is 2 Damn High party’s petition to get on the ballot, so there’s that.
Predicting that tonight is going to be brutal for the Dems, and not wanting to spend the night glued to my laptop, I have made plans for a night out in my old neighborhood, Carroll Gardens. Anthony and I will eat at one of our favorite Italian places (Fragole, which, conveniently, has half-priced wine nights on Tuesdays) and then head over to my favorite New York bar, Bar Great Harry. I will leave my internet-enabled phone at home and try to generally stay uninformed until we have to go home.
Caroline shared a charming bike story about our neighborhood last month, which prompted me to tell one of my own from a couple of weeks ago. Having biked in New York since I moved here three years ago and crossed the Manhattan bridge more times than I care to count, I’ve become a reasonably strong rider. To the point where I pass something like 9 out of 10 riders I encounter on my commute (and I don’t doubt there are a number of speed demons I never see because I never catch up to them). The point being, if I see someone else on a bike, it’s usually not too long before I pass them, and if I’m still trailing (or if they pass me) I often push myself to keep up. It’s just a way to keep things interesting.
So it was that I found myself on the crown of the Manhattan bridge pedaling hard, when out of the corner of my eye I noticed someone gaining on me. As we both began our decline and sped into Chinatown, he kept gaining on me and it was all I could do to keep a few feet ahead. Finally, on the last stretch of the path before the winding exit ramp, he pulled up alongside me and to my surprise, spoke:
"You dropped five dollars!"
"The guy behind me has it."
And with that, he sped on, and I slowed to the bottom of the ramp where I waited as a few bikers passed until the man carrying my money came around the bend.
Only later did it occur to me that even on a moderately calm day, a $5 bill wouldn’t last long on the windy surface of the bike path. So it’s somewhat remarkable that two people busily in their own commute managed this little rescue (and much appreciated, considering that back then $5 was all the money I had on me and probably more than 1/10 of my net worth). New Yorkers are (contrary to some stereotypes) generally helpful people, but this is the kind of experience that you can only find amongst those who brave the city by bike.
Feeding meat and bone meal to cows was insane. Feeding it to pigs, whose natural diet incorporates a fair bit of meat, makes sense, as long as it is rendered properly. The same goes for swill. Giving sterilised scraps to pigs solves two problems at once: waste disposal and the diversion of grain. Instead we now dump or incinerate millions of tonnes of possible pig food and replace it with soya whose production trashes the Amazon. Waste food in the UK, Fairlie calculates, could make 800,000 tonnes of pork, or one sixth of our total meat consumption.
Nothing there that I wouldn’t have been prepared to agree with before, mind you. But the book which Monbiot is discussing, Meat: A Benign Extravagance, apparently gives the topic a rigorous treatment and makes a strong case for animals as a beneficial (albeit smaller) part of our diet.
Last year, our inaugural Brooklyn Skillshare drew some 450+ people out to the Gowanus Studio Space for a day of five blocks of three classes each, ranging from Make Your Own Butter to Balloon Animals. The day was awesome but also insane, as we dealt with larger-than-expected crowds who swarmed the classes, making it difficult to everyone to see and hear. The crowd also overwhelmed what we had prepared for our free lunch, with the situation devolving into a (literal) bread line as dozens of hungry hipsters lined up for a slice of french loaf.
This year, we had a new location at the Brooklyn Community Arts and Media High School (BCAM) in Bed-Stuy, more teachers (five blocks of five + a couple of ongoing activities), and a strict cap of 25 people per class, due to fire safety regulations at the school. We had a smaller crowd, with maybe half of 2009’s attendance, but it ensured that everyone was able to hear and participate in their classes. We also gave up on providing free lunch.
The crowd this year was a lot less hipster-y and more diverse: a number of BCAM students volunteered and/or attended classes, and we had more older Brooklyn residents, as well as some parent-child pairs attending. This is maybe because the Bed-Stuy/Clinton Hill area is more accessible than Gowanus, and also we had more mainstream press this year, including this TimeOut New York write-up. (Unfortunately, we had less of a social media presence this time around, due to the Fight Back New York campaign taking away our awesome social media whiz this year, and the Women’s Media Center occupying our press lady’s time. Yeah, we do some awesome shit when we’re not organizing skillshares).
So, all in all, I would characterize BKSS 2010 as less hipster, less chaotic, and more learning-centered than last year. Did you attend this year? What did you think?
Recipe: Spicy Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Because it’s autumn, and also because there were a number of special events this week at work (two birthdays, someone coming back from maternity leave, someone else leaving), I decided it was time to break out the pumpkin cupcakes.
The recipe comes from a scanned page of my mother’s cookbook, in which she had a pasted a number of recipes cut out from the newspaper. Though there’s no date on the clipping, the neighboring recipes suggest that it’s from the early 80s. The clipping gives credit to one Carol Poling, of Vincent (wherever that is), who found the recipe in Farm Wife News magazine and sent it in.
I’ve updated the recipe quite a bit, replacing margarine with butter and “salad oil,” whatever that is, with canola oil. I also reduced the sugar and added spice.
Here it is:
1 cup of flour
1 and 1/4 to 1 and 1/2 cups sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
Preheat your oven to 350 F
Mix the dry ingredients together (up to the salt)
Mix in the rest of the ingredients
Use a mixer or just stir it really hard for about a minute, until the batter is of uniform consistency.
pour batter into a lined cupcake tray (I found this made 16 cupcakes), filling the cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full
bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top bounces back when you lightly touch it.
While your cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. You should take the butter and cream cheese out of the fridge to warm up as soon as you decide that you’re going to make cupcakes.
one stick of butter
one 8 oz. packet of cream cheese
2-3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
beat the softened (but not melted) butter and cream cheese together
add powdered sugar in increments, until you’ve achieved your desired consistency
mix in the vanilla
Once the cupcakes have cooled down, frost ‘em.
Once you’ve frosted them all, lick the bowl and beaters clean:
Later, at the bar, we realized that we both had frosting in our hair.
As garden season nears an end in Brooklyn, Anthony and I are left with the decidedly pleasant task of disposing with our basil.
Our basil did spectacularly well this year. We started them from seeds in May, and in June they looked like this:
Today, each one of those stalks has turned into a bush like this:
Therefore, it’s pesto time. (You may or may not want to sing that in your head to the tune of Flight of the Conchord’s “It’s Business Time.” Up to you.)
If you have a food processor, making pesto is as easy as throwing a few ingredients in and pressing a button. You can also make pesto in a blender, kind of, but doing so will be a pain in the ass and probably shorten your blender’s life, as it did to one or two of mine.
Seriously, though, if you’re into food, you should listen to Mark Bitman and get yourself a food processor. It will make your life better. You can find them used everywhere, though you should make sure to set it up and turn on a secondhand processor before buying to ensure that you have all the parts you need.
I break with tradition slightly in my pesto-making. First, I use walnuts instead of pine nuts, because they’re much cheaper. Second, I use less olive oil than most recipes call for. Third, I add a little bit of lemon juice. Crazypants, I know.
Here’s how I make pesto.
Throw into a food processor all of the following:
a few densely packed handfuls of basil leaves, washed well, since you’re not going to be cooking them.
1 to 3 cloves of peeled garlic, depending on how much you like garlic
about half a cup of walnuts
a quarter cup or so of parmesan cheese
a quarter cup of olive oil
the juice of half a lemon
pinch of salt and pepper
Then turn on the food processor until the ingredients are broken down into pesto.
Note that these proportions are very rough. Really, you should just start with conservative amounts of garlic, walnuts, parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt/pepper and then add more to taste. (You can always add more of each of these, but there’s very little you can do if you’ve overdone it besides adding more basil). I don’t like mine with too much olive oil, but you can decide for yourself how you like your pesto.
Last weekend, Anthony and I made a big batch of pesto. Since then, we’ve had pesto and goat cheese bruschetta, pesto grilled cheese sandwiches, and pesto on our pizza:
However, once you’ve got a ton of basil on your hands like we do, you’re not going to be able to eat all that pesto before it goes bad.
Freeze the pesto in small batches, either in small plastic bags or in ice cube tray-shaped blocks.
If you’re in the New York area, you really should check out the Skillshare on Saturday. In addition to our worm composting class, there are a whole bunch of other amazing classes, from yogurt making to improv, and, really, you should just look at the class list on the website.
This is the Skillshare’s second year in existence, my second year as a co-organizer, and the first time for both of us teaching. Last year 450 people came out to learn things with us! Hopefully this year will be EVEN AWESOMER.
As I’ve mentioned before, one of our motivations for finally starting this blog (after talking about doing it for months), was to join Adrianne’s Yo la Tengo Late Summer Blog Challenge. The challenge is quite simple: you blog every day for the month of September. You get one mulligan for your first missed post, and if you miss another one after that, you are listed as “out” on her page and, presumably, destined to live out the rest of your days in shame.
We would have made it all the way through September without missing a single post, were it not for beguiling sirens of Craft Beer Week luring us away from our blog duties last night. I would apologize, but, after all, we are only human. When you offer us excellent beers at highly discounted prices, do we not hit that shit up? (Answer: we do).