Tuesday, June 28, 2011


It’s almost one hundred years since Titanic struck that iceberg and sent thousands and itself to the bottom of the sea. While we may shudder recalling the icy demise of so many, I also think about the fabulous last meal they enjoyed before their end. They were certainly well fed and well wined.

Ten courses of exquisitely complicated foods (served with an equal number of paired wines) set out on fine English porcelain made just for the ship.

I stumbled across the menu a few days ago and marveled at the quantity of food consumed at one sitting....how did they possibly manage; especially the ladies in all their whale bone corsets? And that was the norm for every meal! I wondered. Could I eat that much at one sitting with a different wine for each course? Better, yet, could I reproduce that menu? Do I want to do a Julie type job on Titanic’s Last Menu? You bet I do!

I’m going to try one course at a time and my (now) unsuspecting friends are about to eat really really well.  I will not, however, do as Julie did and prepare the menu in order. I will, instead, begin with a food I adore: Salmon. It was presented with mouseline sauce and cucumber (and I hope their fish was poached, ‘cause that’s what mine is going to be).

Stay tuned….pictures, recipes, odd moments (and I'm certain a few disasters) to come.

Pickle. Pickle.

Alice Roosevelt once described a man as looking "as though he's been weaned on a pickle."  Not an admiring statement......about the pickle or the man. But such is the reputation of the pickle. Not a pretty thing and frequently considered sour.

Poor pickle, it gets so little respect

But I am not willing to let the lowly pickle suffer such abuse and like Thomas Jefferson I see a good pickle as a comforting joy as it is "brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar..."  Aaaah.

When I was a little girl, I went with Daddy and Grandma to the Lower East Side of New York. All you had to do was raise your nose in the air to find the barrels of pickles arrayed along the sidewalks and the grumpy men who stood nearby. Grandma brought her own jars and she instructed the men to "get from the bottom" the Kosher dills and pickled green tomatoes we'd enjoy later with pastrami and rye.

Kosher Dills in a barrel as I remember them 

Years later the Kosher dills---the only kind of pickle I had ever known----are being joined by gorgeous new versions of the no longer lowly cucumber pickle.  Whether it is the wonderful abundance of fresh produce, the popularity of local farmer's markets or the move back to homier things, pickling---that lovely result of brining and spices and time---is quite frankly coming into it's own.

And it isn't just the Restaurant Chef pushing all this pickling. Home cooks are also finding the satisfaction and superior taste of home made pickles.

Consider these....

Friend Kim does this every year...she pickles veggies from her garden and from gardens around the south: dills, sours, bread and butters, sliced and unsliced and tiny green tomatoes.

Kim's pickles 

Notice Grandma's funnel at the top                                   

Friends Debra and Tina launched a food company (2 Sisters Secrets)  just to sell their wonderful pickles----lightly sweet & crunchy refrigerator slices they call Tickles----and have found terrific local success.  
Tickles by 2 Sisters Secrets

The Viking Cooking School is offering wildly successful classes on pickling and canning. Chef Mark Rhodes has jars of sweet pickles, fiery hots and lovely 1/2 sours.

Mark's 1/2 Sour Pickles The Viking Cooking School, Atlanta
And not to be forgotten are the pickles bumped to the next level of crunchy pickley deliciousness....dunked in batter and Deep Fried. Find the best here in Atlanta at Yeah! Burger, FLIP burger boutique, Holman and Finch, & Chef Jay's 4th and Swift.

No Reading...Watching

These guys got so fed up with waiting for the iPhone 5 that they created their own...Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Once Upon A Time.

There was a time when I considered health food stores not good for my health. Most seemed quite unclean and were usually stocked with obscure, dusty things on crowded shelves at prices way beyond what they should be.

My opinion has changed. Enter.....

I love this place. (Who wouldn't love a place called Rainbow?) The store is clean. The shelves are dusted. Everything is neat and tidy and nicely organized. The fresh foods they prepare on site carry the dates the food was prepared. The produce is fresh and perky. The staff is friendly, patient and helpful. There's plenty of parking.

There's a beautiful array of personal care products (including Alba's, Burt's Bees, Tom's of Maine and my favorite, their natural glycerine soap) and a diverse selection of name brand & high quality vitamins and supplements. All are reasonably priced. Lots of holistic health books and magazines line a wall and no one bothers you if you just want to browse.

The Hot Bar---Rainbow's prepared foods---offers all vegetarian and also has vegan and gluten free choices. Daily specials include tofu curry, veggie frittata, mushroom stroganoff and vegetarian lasagna. Rainbow's pre-packaged salads, soups and sandwiches make great lunches to grab and go and I've heard they carry the best popcorn in town.....which I have to look for the next time I go. A small dining room offers eat in space. If you can, hang out. Have the mint tea, a slice of coconut pie and some raw veggies with The Best Ever miso dressing.
Grocery shelves carry a very good array of grains, nuts, flours, canned goods. The dairy case has beautiful, well priced local organic eggs (at $3...not bad for organic) and in produce I found two choices of wheat grass: cut and packaged or still in the pot. 
(I brought home some 'still in the pot' just for me to look at, it was so pretty and green).
Now, I will tell you, there is one thing Rainbow does have that every other health food store also has....its array of Very Odd People. 

The last time I was there I was using my phone to take pictures for this blog when the lady standing next to me started to tremble. She crossed her arms over her face and curled into herself while announcing that I was "Emitting x-rays that I'm extremely sensitive to." She went on to tell me, "I'm the only one in the world who is sensitive to rays," and added, "You've ruined me. I can't take them back."

I tried to apologize. I put my phone away. I showed her there'd be no more pictures. She ran from me, she ran from the store. Her arms were still crossed over her head as she disappeared from sight.

Rainbow Natural Foods
2118 N. Decatur Road
Decatur GA 30033
grocery:   404.636.5553
hot bar:  404.633.3538

Friday, June 10, 2011

Frying Eggs on Sidewalks

There's been sizzling heat the last couple of weeks. Eggs come to mind and the time my brother actually tried to fry an egg on the sidewalk. It took a while to sort of cook and then there was the problem of getting it off the ground. He didn't butter the walk. We scrapped up a mess.

But, all stunts aside, I am noticing eggs making a resurgence in all kinds of kicked up ways. There's even a web site devoted to The Incredible Edible Egg.

So why is this common ingredient now taking a starring role? Well, one reason may be that after decades of banishment, eggs are no longer considered a cholesterol enemy. And egg producers, encouraged by the shift in attitude, are expanding their market by creating healthier designer eggs. More nutrients and heart healthy omega-3's.

Eggs are also a budget friendly protein. (And these days we need budget friendly) You get a lot for a relatively small amount of money. Besides, now we can bring back deviled eggs....no longer considered too pedestrian and (redesigned) retro food is in.

So here are some cool egg ideas

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Who’s Your Mama….?

.....Are You Catholic and Can You Make A Roux?" That’s what greeted me every time Fred opened his front door. All brazen as can be. Daring me, my Yankee self, to try my hand at roux.

Not that lovely French roux of unsweetened butter and flour cooked to a shiny off white paste. No. This was a mix of plain old vegetable oil (and/or bacon fat or grease) mixed with equal parts plain flour and slowly cooked (seemingly for hours) until it turned almost the deep color of reddish brown mahogany. 

I put off that challenge as long as I could until one day---years later---I screwed up my courage and made a gumbo which of course, has to start with that roux.

Here’s Gumbo y’all…my way

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

There's A Cow on the Cover

Food Arts magazine came today. There's a fat brown cow gracing the cover. The headline says, "America The Bountiful."

Well we are, bountiful. "From sea to shining sea," Food Arts asserts and quite frankly, I agree. We do produce some of the world's finest foods and in some spectacular variety and abundance.

But there is another side to all of this magnificent largess (and those who enjoy it). It is called Hunger and the problem has become acute.

There is a rapidly expanding number of this country's population who regularly sleep with hunger clawing at their belly. These are not the homeless or the disenfranchised but the ordinary families next door, down the block around the corner.....most with children under 18.

This growing population---the newly poor who are out of work for the first time in their lives---forgo food to stave off landlords, banks and utilities. Another 44 million American depend on food stamps to eat...that is 1 out of every 7 human beings living in this fabulously bountiful land.

Feeding America, which distributes more than 2 billion pounds of food every year, says the demand at food banks has gone up a startling 30% since 2008.

So how the disconnect from a publication devoted to the art of food? Quite irresponsible I'd say. I intend to send them this blog.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Needed Fixing

Thank you for reading my blog! I always appreciate the feed back and look forward to hearing from readers.

I am aware that some of you have had trouble leaving comments. We have done some fixing and hope this will alleviate the problem...thank you for your patience!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

10 Simple Kitchen Tips You Wish Someone Told You Earlier

I’d like to think that I’ve got enough imagination to fill up this blog with ideas of my own. But today I stumbled across something I wish I had thought of and didn’t. I guess it’s because I can cook and often forget that there’s an entire generation who never learned. So here it is…

10 Simple Kitchen Tips You Wish Someone Told You Earlier
by Darya Pino, PhD

1. Use tongs to cook pretty much everything

Spatulas are awesome for anything that needs to be flipped or scraped, like eggs and pancakes. For everything else, tongs are the way to go. They're much more nimble and less awkward to use, and you'll find far fewer things jumping from your pan onto the floor. If you have teflon cookware, be sure to use tongs with nylon tips. And always go for the 12-inchers.

2. Store everything in Tupperware
As much as I'd like to be the kind of person who trims their herbs, puts them in an vase then wraps them in a damp paper towel so they last a week, I'm way too lazy for that. The good news though is that tupperware keeps almost everything fresh for much longer than your crisper, including berries, salad greens and produce that has already been cut. Because it is reusable, it is also more ecofriendly.

3. If you own a knife, don't use a garlic press
Peeling and pressing garlic is a huge waste of time. To use a clove of garlic, set it on a cutting board and smash it with the flat side of a big knife (any chef's knife will do). The papery skin will come right off, and you can mince it real quick right there in about 10 seconds. Done.

The Plate

The Food Pyramid is history. Enter, The Plate. The new food icon, introduced today by First Lady Michele Obama, is split into four sections: fruits, vegetables, grains and protein with a side plate of dairy. The idea being that it will be easier for busy parents to use it as a visual guideline when it’s time to feed the kids and themselves…it provides a clearer picture of what a healthy plate of food should look like.

Evidently the pyramid was not effective as 68% of American are now considered over weight or obese. First Lady Michelle said, “As long as [our plates are] half full of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we're golden. That's how easy it is."

So, what did you eat tonight? Did it reflect the plate?