garden state

I’ve found a new place to call home. This summer, I moved with my family halfway across the country, from the Midwest where I’ve lived for the last decade, back to the Northeast where I was born. We’ve landed in New Jersey — not exactly my childhood state, but very reassuringly close to the edge of the Atlantic ocean I’ve missed for so long.

I’m just coming out of the fog of exhaustion that moving brought on, which felt more physically grueling than I ever remembered. Is it my advanced age? There was a time in my life when I picked up and moved every couple of years without batting an eye. Of course, those were days when the tendrils that held me in place where like threads on the end of a baby onion; nothing like the roots that formed after living in the same house year after year, watching my children grow up.

The past few months have been chaotic, and the lack of an orderly kitchen space — not to mention the piles of boxes all around — left me unbalanced and out of sorts. It was until I managed to cook a few simple meals in the new house that I felt some control. Even simply chopping fresh parsley, heating some garlic with olive oil to put over a bowl of pasta made life seem peaceful and predictable again.

There is such a bounty of great food in this part of the world; I feel very lucky and excited at the abundance of beautiful fresh seafood, local meat and produce. In Essex County where I live now, there’s a farmer’s market every day of the week in each different town.

I’ll be getting back to my usual cooking and posting recipes here, but for now I wanted to share a taste of my recent trip to the market.

Talk to you soon!

High Water and Wet Cookbooks

This is what happens when you store a large portion of your cookbook collection in the basement and you experience a torrential rain that overflows the ancient storm sewers in the street behind you, pours down the slope in your backyard, cascades through a window well with the healthy-sounding vigor of Niagara Falls and floods into a muddy, messy wading pool.

I’ve hired a crew of water restoration experts (with the help of my insurance company), who watched me trying to rescue the least waterlogged of my books by squeezing them out and putting them in the sun to dry. Big mistake, they told me.

“Every time you flip through the pages of a sewage contaminated book, you’ll just be spreading spores”.

I guess. But this wasn’t, um, raw sewage, but storm water sewage. Isn’t that different? What’s a little mud between friends and books?

You can pretty much guess that I’m little sad about tossing my cookbooks. Looking on the bright side, though, it was just a few shelves’ worth of books that got ruined. And, as grown-ups like to point out after such inconvenient pain-in-the-keister events, nobody got hurt.

On the other hand, my basement is totaled. And as I write this, the sky has darkened and it’s thundering. I’m going to get some buckets ready….


Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food

Letter to Monsanto – Lay off my milk

I don’t usually go off like a ranting banshee, but indulge me here. I just read about Monsanto’s latest tactic to mess with my food.

It was reported today that Monsanto, based right here in St. Louis, is asking federal authorities to “crack down” on dairies that label their products free of recumbent bovine growth hormone – rBST – claming that the labels are misleading.

It’s true that food companies are always happily slapping labels on products with the sole intent to mislead consumers. It’s all a kind of sleight-of-hand trick. Take those packages of frozen fish sticks and apple pie that declare “0g trans fats” but still contain double the amount of saturated fat in a single serving than does a whole rib-eye steak. Food companies are now required by the FDA to list the amount of trans-fats per serving as “zero” if it contains less than 0.5 grams trans fat.

But that doesn’t mean the product doesn’t contain trans – which is what partially hydrogenated anything is composed of – it means they’ve adjusted the serving size listed to be smaller.

Another example is chicken – those packages in the grocery store that say “100 % Hormone Free” are meaningless. The use of growth hormones in chicken production has been banned in the U.S since 1979.

Monsanto is not out to protect the health and well-being of any living thing, which is usually the case when groups complain about “label lying” – they simply have their own huge corporate interests at stake.

It’s not that I believe that the hormone in question, Posilac, is dangerous or toxic. In fact, study after study has shown that the hormone is undetectable in cow’s milk and does not seem to be passed on to humans.

It’s this: I go out of my way to buy food for my family that isn’t bio-engineered, processed, fumigated or f—-ed with, and I spend extra dollars for the privilege. I don’t need the suits at a mega-conglomerate shoving their chemicals down my throat or telling me how to read a food label.

And with that, I’m off to Whole Foods to read some labels.

More interesting reading:

Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food