On March 20, 2023, the Maryland House of Delegates passed House Bill (#178) to make Maryland Rye Whiskey the official state spirit. Maryland has a long history in making Rye Whiskey and you can find some treasured brands available at some local farmers markets. If this Bill passes into law, Rye Whiskey would be added to other recognized Maryland State symbols, including the blue crab (State crustacean) and Smith Island cake (our beloved State cake). [Source] (March 2023)
St. Albans, England. It was the year 793 when the pub first opened. Ye Olde Fighting Cocks got its name from hosting cock fights up through the 1800s and is listed as the oldest pub in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. Oh, the stories the walls of this 1230-year-old pub could tell! After all of the trials and tribulations the world has seen since the 8th Century, it was the modern world that finally forced it to shutter its windows this year. Not to worry though: the restaurant group that owns this historic pub has plans to re-open it sometime in the future. Want to plan a visit? We sure do! (Source: Food & Wine) [3/2023]
Seed shortages became a thing in 2020 when the fragility of our food network revealed itself, people were stuck at home, and home gardens blossomed around the world. Sounds great but it caused headaches for seed producers as seed shortages became as common as toilet paper shortages. The producers simply were not ready for the huge uptick in sales and could not accommodate all of the new gardens. Three years later, we still see seed shortages. What’s up? Well, harvesting seeds is a time-intensive process. Generally speaking, the plants are sown up to a year before the sale of the seeds, so it takes at least a year to catch up with demand. But, that’s only part of the story. Seed crops are grown much differently than crops meant for consumption: plants need to be planted far from each other to prevent cross-pollination so more land mass is needed. Seed companies generally contract with farmers for many of their seeds, so these companies have had to find more sources. Inflation also comes into play. If farmer can get more for a crop of actual produce – as opposed to growing for seeds – it makes economic sense to focus resources on growing crops, not seeds. Our changing climate also carries some blame as the world-wide farming land and practices are impacted. We may be facing seed shortages for a longer period of time due to these factors. A great way to ensure you have seeds next year is to harvest your own seeds this year. There are many online sources to help you get started. Another hedge is to check out local seed banks or local libraries which often act as seed banks. (Source: Mother Earth News, February/March 2023)
Why are some brands successful in NEVER changing their “recipes”? For a very interesting audio on this, the BBC.co.uk’s “Business Daily” breaks this down. The message here, don’t dabble with a winning recipe! Click here to listen. (P.S. In this online audio, you’ll love the background sounds, particularly a bottle of Coca-Cola being opened and the Bengali music to introduce Worcestershire sauce.) (Feb. 2023)
A woman in Vermont has built an unusual bakery, stocked with the Argentinean breads and pastries of her youth. Natalia Meijome stocks her tiny panaderia with breads, cookies, pastries and other delectable treats. Opting to forgo the traditional brick-and-mortar storefront, Ms. Meijome built a tiny bakery along the same lines as the tiny libraries that have sprouted up across the country. Customers scan a QR code and pay with a credit card, using an honor system to purchase their goodies. Is her Tiny Bread Box the wave of the future? Click here to read more! (Jan. 2023)
It’s hard when a food producer discontinues a favorite food. Ever since it announced the discontinuation of a popular pasta shape, Ronzoni has been slammed for its decision and a massive effort and petition drive to convince it to change course is ongoing. The start-shaped Pastina #155 is being discontinued and fans are not pleased. This pasta is a favorite to many dishes and generations have relied on it. The boxes typically sold for $2.00/box and are now at least $24.99! Get yours while you can afford it (for more information, click here)! (Jan. 2023)
It’s about that time of the year: Girl Scout Cookies!!!! Things are starting to change a bit. Not only are they rolling out a new cookie but it will only be available online for direct shipment. The new Raspberry Rally cookies are coated in chocolate and have a raspberry filling. YUM!! The Girl Scouts hope to teach young women about e-commerce and entrepreneurship by offering these only online. You can still purchase all of the other cookies from your favorite Girl Scout. To find where you can get you cookies starting on February 27, go to this handy site. (Jan. 2023)
Did you know about Culinary Historians of Washington, D.C., or as we refer to it, “CHOW” for short. CHOW D.C. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1996, and it focuses mostly on culinary history. Fascinating stuff! If you ever were curious as to when a particular food developed in a particular country and why, this is the organization for you. If you wanted to learn about the origins of a food-related museum (e.g. a museum devoted solely to mustard) then CHOW D.C. is the place for you! Once a month, CHOW D.C. features a speaker who presents a culinary-history/cultural topic on Zoom (so you can dial-in from just about anywhere) and there is a question and answer period afterwards. The presenters are experts in their fields, and guaranteed you will learn new things. Past topics included the history of chopsticks, and yoghurt, what ancient humans ate, and wine and the White House. For more information about CHOW and on how to become a member, please go to the CHOW D.C. website by clicking here.
Holiday time means Christmas cookies. It would not be the holidays without these essential and ubiquitous treats that symbolize many things. They remind us of it is a special time of year when we allow ourselves to indulge (sometimes overindulge) in many things, including desserts. Christmas cookies come in every design, color, shape, flavor, and there must be hundreds of recipes. Just about anything goes and perfect baking is not a requirement. A platter of Christmas cookies is a beautiful sight to behold, a treasured gift that involves a lot of hard work, planning, mixing, baking, and decorating. Each cookie is to be savored with a cup of coffee or chai and shared with a friend or with glass of cold milk along with the younger family members. Even Santa Claus is rewarded with a Christmas cookie or two for making the challenging journey down the chimneys of so many homes. Which made us wonder, with all the recipes available, what are the most favored Christmas Cookie made? Pondering this age-old question, we found the answer and it is what we expected – the #1 cookie made is gingerbread and Italian Christmas cookies are a close second! One of our favorite go-to sources, FoodandWine.com, has an online article on “The Most Searched Christmas Cookies in Every State.” Here’s hoping you have Christmas cookies that last into the new year. (Dec. 2022)
Do you have a dish or recipe that really makes you feel like you are in the holiday season, that brings back cherished memories of holidays you spent with family and friends? For Pixie, chicken soup with matzah balls and chopped chicken livers on crackers with slice of cheddar cheese are special foods for special days. Although considered traditional Jewish foods, Pixie’s family celebrated most holidays (including Christian holidays) with these must-have dishes. Which got us thinking about what others eat on the holidays that bring them happy memories, other traditions, religions and cultures. If you are interested in reading more about this, we found a delightful article online “Holiday Foods Evoke Fond Memories” by https://news.gatech.edu. This article reminds us that there is no limit to the glory of food. From a practical perspective, there is always room to add new dishes to the must-have holiday menu! (Dec. 2022)
“Marvelous”, “amazing”, “how fun” and “wowza!” are the words that spring to mind when reading the foodandwine.com article about the 2022 National Gingerbread House Competition and seeing images of the winning entries! This annual competition has been held for 30 years and advertises itself as “the largest gingerbread house competition in America.” We are believers! With 219 entries, the contestants hope to win cash and prizes, and of course, one would assume, and rightfully so, bragging rights. To qualify, entries must be fully edible and contain 75%+ gingerbread, and the entries are judged on appearance, creativity, level of difficulty and precision. Kudos to all the entrants, we aspire to your technical and creative skills. To read more about this delightful competition and see winning entries, click here. (Nov. 2022).
Nothing like a PB&J! While some are better than others, it’s a quintessential American sandwich etched in our collective memories! And, many of us continue to eat them as adults – nothing wrong with that! Did you know that during the Depression and World War II, PB&Ms were the norm? What’s a PB&M? Peanut butter and mayonnaise on white bread. People were hungry and meat/cheese were expensive and hard to find. Many people turned instead to cheaper sources of fat, protein and carbs. In some places, such as the South, these sandwiches were as popular as PB&Js. Also, adding mayonnaise to that era’s rustic nut butters (which tended to be coarse) helped with the spreadable factor. Well into the 1960’s PB&Ms were eaten. Hellman’s had an advertising campaign about ways to spice up PB&Ms, such as adding bacon and pickles or raisins and carrots. In fact, there are still many Americans who indulge in their PB&M sandwiches – not so much for the boost of calories and fat – but for the taste and familiarity of a good food memory. Source: Atlas Obscura (www.atlasobscura.com). (Nov. 2022)
In honor of National Pickle Day (November 14), Vlassic is rolling out a pickle-scented wax candle. That’s right! A scented candle that looks and smells like a jar of Vlassic pickles. Turns out, that’s not an easy task! The pickles have to be hand placed in jars in order to remain standing when the wax is poured. Getting the scent just right also took a lot of time and trials. These scented candles join the pantheon of American food giants with a line of scented candles like McDonald’s, Miller Lite and Campbell’s. Source: Food & Wine (www.foodandwine.com). (Nov. 2022)
As with many things during the Age of Covid, the price and availability of avocados has widely fluctuated. First, there was a shortage and prices spiked. Now, due to a variety of reasons, the prices are plummeting – a bright spot in these times of inflation. It really comes down to supply. Most of our avocados in the U.S. come from Mexico and there were some trade issues last year that severely restricted the supply. Those have been resolved and the avocados heading north again! With worldwide inflation that is much higher than in the U.S., foreign consumers are not eating as many avocados so that source of demand has declined. So, break out the mortar and pestle and get ready for cheap guacamole! Who would have thought that avocado toast would be a cheaper breakfast? Source: Food & Wine (www.foodandwine.com). (Nov. 2022)
Have you heard of the podcast, The Sporkful with Dan Pashman? Oh right, sorry, that’s a silly question, OF COURSE you have heard of it, it is one of our favorite podcasts. This podcasts has won lots of awards and covered multiple topics and people. One the best shows it has done is the two-part series entitled How to Export Coffee in a War. This series tells the story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, founder of Port of Mokha coffee, and his idea to sell coffee grown in Yemen to the world. The podcast is riveting as it traces the trials, tribulations and travails Mr. Alkanshali overcomes in his quest to bring coffee from Yemen to the world’s attention, which it so richly deserves. His focus and priority is squarely on the farmers in Yemen and that they receive equitable prices for the coffee they grow. Coffee is a core crop in Yemen, a country that has struggled and suffered terribly since the start of its Civil War in 2014. The coffee in Yemen is some of the best coffee grown anywhere in the world. (Oct. 2022)
When the world seems upside down, one of the first things we at UnitedInFood turn to is … dark chocolate. Of course, what else can one do? Well, true, there are other helpful things such as praying, going to a religious service, taking a walk in nature, meditating or calling a friend. All essential lifelines, no question there. But chocolate comes first. And this is fine, really smart actually, because not only is it it delicious and the joy is the polar opposite of what we are experiencing in the world, but it also has proven health benefits! We have the facts in our front pocket, such as dark chocolate contains antioxidants. Yeah for us! And, dark chocolate could help to reduce heart disease and could help to lower blood pressure. You may laser-focus on the “could help” part but those words are good enough for us. For an excellent article on the health benefits of dark chocolate, check this out – 7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate by healthy-line.com. The next time you are thinking about turning on the news or before your presentation at that big meeting at work, try eating just a small (it doesn’t have to be small, note to self) piece of dark chocolate. It will bring you joy, you will get through the moment and you will be doing something great for your body. Cheers! (Sep. 2022)
We here at UnitedInFood love podcasts about food (and about other subjects too, but of course, food is our main topic of interest). A podcast is a great way to learn about a subject, similar to listening to a radio program. You can listen to podcasts using your computer or handheld device (smart phone or iPod) in a quiet room (reminding one of the photo images when the whole family congregated around the radio together and listened to radio broadcasts), or you can listen in the background as you do other things (e.g., cooking, cleaning, working). One of our favorite podcasts is Sporkful. This award-winning podcast is entertaining and informative, and the host, Dan Pashman is a joy to listen to. It is hard to resist his enthusiasm for the subject of food, and importantly, for his guests, and we are always surprised to see what the new show is about! To learn more about this podcast and the range of “shows” available, click here.
In August, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) holds its annual “Gather” event. This year, it is “GatherGuatemala” to celebrate and honor the people, culture, food and history of Guatemala. Guatemala has a rich history including it is the “founder” of chocolate. Of course, we at UnitedInFood are diving into learning about Guatemalan cuisine, and making new recipes to celebrate this event. This includes working on our tortilla making skills which were in serious need of focus and attention. To learn more about GatherGuatemala and LIRS, please click on this link.
Hibiscus flowers. We read an interesting article on the “8 Benefits of Hibiscus Tea” by the online resource Healthline.com. Evidently, these beautiful flowers contain antioxidants, and might lower blood pressure. More testing to be done in order to support these health claims. Hibiscus tea is also easy to make and delicious to drink, either hot or cold. That we can confirm with certainty (or certain tea)! If you have an appliance that makes seltzer water, cold hibiscus tea is very refreshing. And if you grow your own hibiscus plant in organic soil, you will know which variety you have (there are more than 100 species) and the quality of the flowers. We will keep reading to learn more about health benefits, and keep you updated.
What is the best whisky in the world? In an online article by Food and Wine, they announced that this past weekend the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition was held and the Best In Show award winner was a 40 year old single malt whisky from the Scotch distillery, Benromach. This distillery is located in Forres in the Speyside region, and only 1,000 bottles of this whisky were released. Makes us curious to visit the town Forres, the distillery, and where can one find a bottle of this amazing whisky? Hmmm, more research is needed. For more on this, here is the link to the Food and Wine article. Too, here is a fun article on why “whiskey” is sometimes spelled with an “e” and other times not. Cheers!
We all love YouTube, are we right on this? You can just nod your head, yes or no. We could fritter away hours watching videos on YouTube, everything from artists and musicians we like, to interviews on every subject, to / DIY home projects, sitcoms and movie clips, and for us at UnitedInFood, cooking videos! We are highlighting two YouTubers we spend A LOT of time watching, all for the betterment of our cooking skills. A friend referred this first YouTube cook to Pixie in her role as #LIRS Ambassador, Nooria Ali at https://www.youtube.com/user/nooriaali. Ms. Ali cooks Afghan cuisine and her videos provide clear demonstrations on how to make, what seem to be, difficult recipes. A huge thanks to Ms. Ali. The second YouTuber we enjoy watching and learning from is Rory O’Connell, and you can find him at https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Irish+Chef+Rory+O%27Connell. Recently, UnitedInFood’s book club read The Joy of Food by Chef O’Connell and it is one of our favs, the recipes are simple yet filled with imagination and creativity.
Cheers to the City of Boston! Boston will start a pilot program for a curbside collection service of food-waste in addition to the standard trash and recycling collection services that are currently offered. Starting in August of this year, Boston will offer the new service to residents who live in buildings with up to six units. Food-waste, when placed in landfills, is one of the biggest sources of methane gas which contributes to global warming. Separating it from trash allows food-waste to be used for good – for composting which adds key nutrients to the soil for growing food and plants, and it reduces what is added to landfills. A win-win. In addition to this new food-waste collection service, Boston residents have other compost options for food-waste including private composting companies and drop-off locations. Pixie’s and Pepper’s family roots are from the Boston-area and we are glad to see Boston leading the way and showing how it can be done! To learn more, click on this link https://realestate.boston.com/news/2022/05/28/boston-launch-curbside-food-waste-collection-august/.
We’ve heard of smart phones, smart televisions and smart cars. But have you heard of smart cheese? Yes, it is a real thing, and it’s the world’s beloved Parmigiano Reggiano! We read about this in an interesting article of Food & Wine Magazine. Like many European products protected with a designation or origin, the real deal Parmigiano Regianno can only made in a specific area of the Parma region of Italy. According to Food & Wine Magazine there are imposters who fraudulently use the label “Parmigiano Regianno” on their cheese. To help combat this in the past, Parmigianno Regianno makers have used tracking codes. Currently, testing is underway for a micro chip to be added to the casein label of the cheese to help better track it. For this Food & Wine Magazine article, please click here https://www.foodandwine.com/news/parmigiano-reggiano-fraud-micro-transponder-rinds-digital-label. To learn more information about this revered cheese, go to https://parmigianoreggiano.us/the-cheese/.
In the Land of Enchantment, it is estimated that close to 300,000 people face chronic food insecurity, including 20% of our children. (Source: Hunger Free America (https://www.hungerfreeamerica.org/en-us/.) Enter Seed2Need (https://seed2need.org), a community organization based in Corrales (just north of Albuquerque) that started in 2008 during the Great Recession by a couple who planted vegetable seeds in their neighbor’s horse corral to provide fresh produce to a local food pantry. Over the years, it has grown and now provides fresh produce to many food pantries and soup kitchens. In fact, it has provided over 700,000 pounds of fresh produce since 2010! The Sandoval Master Gardeners became active volunteers early in the project and local farmers provide excess produce from their fields and farms. The Eagle Scouts helped clear additional land, while church groups and many volunteers continue to help out in the fields. Seed2Need shows what great things happen when the community bands together: hungry people are given nourishing food and volunteers nourish their souls while working in the fields and orchards.
So, on the scale of problems, this definitely falls in the category of a very minor annoyance at most. The age old dilemma of ten hot dogs in a package, but only eight rolls. What’s up with this, why the disconnect? Per the National Hot Dog Sausage Council, hot dog buns are baked in groups and pans designed for four and eight rolls. Whereas hot dogs are sold by the pound. Standard “dogs’ weigh 1.6 ounces and ten per package makes good math (16 ounces – one pound). Which takes us to the Heinz Hot Dog Pact. Heinz is circulating a petition to get hot dog bun companies to match buns to dogs – ten on ten. Yep, this is one petition we can stand behind. If you’d like to sign this petition and learn more, please go to https://heinzhotdogpact.com
Breaking news, hot off the panini press, and drop everything! Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream is now offering their Everything Bagel ice cream! This ice cream contains sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onions and garlic – just like we’d find in a bagel at the local deli shop. All we can say is WOWZA! Using the immortal word of bagel lovers everywhere, the ingredients are “schmeared” with the cream cheese base of this incredible and unforgettable ice cream. To place your order now (and don’t delay), please go to Jeni’s website at https://shop.jenis.com/ice-creams/everything-bagel-pint/.
UnitedInFood wants to shine a light on Pepper’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) New Mexico Harvest (formerly called Beneficial Farms) in New Mexico. This CSA sustained Pepper and her family during the 2020/22 pandemic with fresh, locally grown food that was delivered to Pepper’s home. New Mexico Harvest has been serving the community for over 25 years, and they are committed to creating a more sustainable food system in New Mexico that connects consumers with their local farmers and growers. New Mexico Harvest’s mission is to “Eat Local. Eat Seasonal. Eat Outside the Box Stores.” To learn more about this amazing organization, please visit their website at https://csa.farmigo.com/store/newmexicoharvest.
Our favorite chef Jose Andres and the non-profit he started, World Central Kitchen (https://wck.org) are to the rescue where tragedy and suffering live, including in Ukraine, Tonga, Brazil and The Philippines. WCK brings food to the suffering in providing professional chef-prepared meals. Its mission is Food is a Universal Human Right. We support its mission and the belief that “a nourishing meal in a time of crisis is so much more than a plate of food—it’s hope, it’s dignity, and it’s a sign that someone cares”. To help support WCK’s work for Ukrainian refugees and others, please go to https://donate.wck.org/give/236738/#!/donation/checkout.
UnitedInFood stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine as they bravely fight for their lives, fellow countrymen, homes and government. Our hearts are broken as we see this war be waged upon them. What exemplary heroism and courage they show the world. While we cannot be there to fight alongside them, there are resources available to learn about Ukrainian culture, and for us at UnitedInFood, food is always the way. One of our favorite Ukrainians chefs is, Olia Hercules, and her website https://oliahercules.com is a treasure trove of deliciousness and information on Ukrainian cuisine.
As thousands of our Afghan brothers and sisters re-settle to life in the U.S., they are struggling with the difference in the food culture of the U.S. compared to their homeland. Food is essential to feeling secure and nourished, it is akin to medicine for a tired soul that has traveled thousands of miles and left all behind. The food we know and love connects to our families, friends, our community and history. It gives us a sense of well-being that almost nothing else can compare to. The Afghan culinary traditions are based on rice, beans, lentils, spices (such as cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, and coriander), tomatoes, yoghurt, herbs and lamb. Mainstays of U.S. food culture include things such as pre-prepared meals, mac-n-cheese and PBJ (or its sibling, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff). Enormous differences. Volunteers and those involved with re-settlement of our new Afghan neighbors are learning about the food culture of they people they seek to assist, what foods to include when stocking refrigerators and pantries and which recipes to make for the welcome to the community dinners. For more information on this, please click on the below link for the msn.com article entitled “Afghan refugees struggle with American foods; new donation drive looks for basmati rice, lentils, beans” covers this issue. https://www.msn.com/en-us/foodanddrink/foodnews/afghan-refugees-struggle-with-american-foods-new-donation-drive-looks-for-basmati-rice-lentils-beans/ar-AAPIFNs.
According to Side Chef online article (https://www.sidechef.com/articles/1510/15-food-trends-you-should-know-2022/ some of the top food trends of 2022 include things we figured would be on the list: urban farming and indoor gardening; online grocery shopping; global food waste; and plant based menus becoming the norm. No surprises there. The top trends include some things that are new to us though. For example, yuzu fruit … hmm, who knew? And Moringa (also called drumstick tree and miracle leaf) is a new superfood. It is chock-a-block-full of Vitamin C and potassium. Best not to rush out to look for either of these at your local grocery store, they might be better found at health food stores (which, by the way, first trended in the U.S in the 1980s) or online.
The Washington Post recently published an article on a trend (that we at UnitedInFood applaud) — including recipes in obituaries! If you are lucky to have someone in your family who cooks a treasured recipe for you, including that recipe in your loved one’s obituary is a way to acknowledge this as one of their life achievements. Food is a healer in times of grief, and our loved one’s recipe can be one way to publicly acknowledge how they cared for us. Too, food and recipes are reminders that we must go on, take care of and nurture ourselves, even when our grief over the loss of a loved one overwhelms us. The Post reported that from “March 2020 through October 2021, 430 obituaries referencing casseroles have been published in American newspapers and on the online obituary platform Legacy.com.” For the full article entitled “Casseroles made and missed: Why so many obituaries honor this treasured dish”, please go to https://www.washingtonpost.com/food/2021/12/14/obituary-casseroles-funerals/. 12/19/21.
Pixie was recently named as an Ambassador for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (“LIRS”). Pixie’s focus as an Ambassador will be food advocacy (also referred to as gastro-advocacy) of immigrants and refugees who have come to the USA to start new lives. LIRS was founded in 1939 and has helped to settle over 500,000 immigrants. For more information on LIRS, please go to https://www.lirs.org. 11/30/21 #TheLongWelcome
Speaking of science projects, how about growing Hatch chiles in space? Our intrepid astronauts are doing it, and we were so excited to read about this one! The peppers’ journey began in the summer of 2021 when chile seeds were packed, along with other necessary space items, the spacecraft located at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Once they (the peppers and the astronauts) arrived at the ISS (short for International Space Station) they (the chiles, not the astronauts) were placed in a growth chamber. Back on planet Earth, the scientists at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) remotely helped their fellow astronauts in space grow the peppers, including adjusting the lighting and moisture. Alas, the peppers were not able to defy gravity but this successful experiment offers new ideas on growing food. For more on this article, go to High Country News online magazine at https://www.hcn.org/articles/south-agriculture-how-new-mexico-chiles-ended-up-on-the-space-station. 11/14/21
The FDA recently published information that warns against using slow cookers to cook beans, unless you follow standard bean cooking preparation first (soaking and cooking the beans). The reason for this is the low temperatures of slow cookers does not get high enough to kill lectins which are toxins in the beans. For more information on this, go to https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/never-one-popular-food-slow-122845039.html
It is not often that we read about a college that turns its football field into an organic garden! UnitedInFood gives a huge shout-out to Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas for this amazing feat. The garden is run by students at the College and a Farm Manager. Since its start in March 2010, this initiative has been a source of locally grown food for residents in the area (a federally recognized food desert), teaches leadership and stewardship, and helps to address the issue of food insecurity in the community. For more information on this, go to https://www.pqc.edu/we-over-me-farm/.
Maryland’s 2021 Buy Local Challenge is here, it runs from July 17 – July 25, 2021. These are some exciting days for us! The goal of this Challenge is for one week to buy or consume at least one food item every day that is grown or raised locally in Maryland. This Challenge is promoted by the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission. To learn more about this once a year event or to join the Challenge, please go to https://www.buylocalchallenge.com/about. 7/18/2021
This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the restaurant Chez Panisse by Alice Waters in Berkeley, California. This restaurant opened on August 28, 1971. Through this restaurant, Alice Waters helped promote the buy local and farm-to-table movements in which restaurants and consumers purchase food directly from local farmers and growers. One of the many benefits of these movements is that by removing the middleman, a better economic system is created for farmers and growers. Consumers are encouraged to eat seasonal food that is grown or raised locally. For more on this iconic restaurant and Alice Waters’ food activism, please see the Smithsonian Magazine article at https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/fifty-years-ago-berkeley-restaurant-chez-panisse-launched-farm-table-movement-180978181/. 7/18/21.
Have you ever considered creating a food diary? For a lot of reasons, we could be convinced that this is a good idea. The top two reasons for us are: (1) gaining awareness of what is happening food-wise in the house; and (2) remember which recipes are winners and which ones are not so much. Recently, Chowhoud online periodical had a great article on this, and the link is https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/276817/cooking-diary-recipe-journal/. Let us know if you write your own food diary. Maybe we will write a blog about it too! 7/1/21.
As Pixie and her fellow Marylanders survive the 2021 Swarm of Periodic Brood X Cicadas, she has been hearing a lot about recipes for Cicadas! I mean, this just about takes the cake. But we here at UnitedInFood like to keep an open mind so we did some recipe reading. A very interesting blog on this is by Montclair State University’s website, in which “anthropology expert Cortni Borgerson explains how you can harvest and cook them.” To read this blog, go to https://www.montclair.edu/newscenter/2021/05/19/cicadas-safe-to-eat-sustainable-delicious-recipes/. I really enjoyed reading this blog but am not sure I can do all that the author mentions, including “Personally, I love them by themselves on toothpicks as an appetizer or in tacos, where you can use the toppings to bring out a lot of their green spring flavors.” That is brave my friend, and we shall leave it at that. 6/6/21.
Slow Food International published a blog on “10 small but very big things you can do to save bees and pollinators”. Bees are essential for a healthy ecosystem. As this blog states “The decline of these insects threatens not only their biodiversity and that of the plants they pollinate, but also the diversity of other animals, many of which (e.g. birds and amphibians) feed on insects.” When counting, we could only think of the honeybee and bumble bee, however, there are over 20,000 different bee species globally, and 4,000 in just the USA! Global changes depend on what we do in our own backyards. Two of the steps were new to us, the bee hotel and providing bees with a water source (makes sense they would be thirsty). For the 10 steps you can take, go to https://www.slowfood.com/10-small-but-very-big-things-you-can-do-to-save-bees-and-pollinators/. 5/12/21
In case you were wondering if your dining etiquette matches that of the U.K.’s Royal Family, here are some of the top things you would be doing, per Culinary News, an online food resource: (a) dressing formally for every meal; (b) planning your dinner conversations ahead of time and being strategic in who you talk with at the dinner table – the person on your right for the first part of the meal, and the person on your left for the second part of the meal (our question is, how does one know when the first part of the meal is over and the second part has begun?); (c) no one can sit down or eat before the queen does (hmm … can we be the queen?); and garlic and shellfish are out (the clincher on how we knew Royal life was not for us). For the full article, go to https://culinarynewsworld.com/2020/08/11/royal-dining-habits-and-etiquette-followed-by-british-royals/. 4/26/21
We are loving an article that we read recently in The Washington Post. The owner of a treasured Baltimore restaurant, Ekiben, received an email from the son-in-law of a woman who is dying of cancer. The caller asked if he could have the recipe for his mother-in-law’s favorite dish that she always ordered when she visited Ekiben – broccoli tempura. The son-in-law and his wife wanted to make this entree for his mother-in-law, who lives in Vermont, so that she could have it one last time. However, Ekiben owner, Steve Chu, said he would travel to Vermont and cook it for her! Mr. Chu, along with an Ekiben employee and his business partner traveled to Vermont and made the broccoli tempura in the parking lot, and did not accept any payment. We say kudos to Ekiben for this generous and loving act. For the full article, go to https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2021/03/18/ekiben-restaurant-baltimore-cancer/. 3/20/21
We recently read the wonderful article INSIDE NAPLES’ WORLD-FAMOUS PIZZA CULTURE in the March 2021 Smithsonian Magazine’s website. For pizza in Naples, it’s all about the dough and the oven temperature it is cooked in (900 degrees!). With the following quote, how can you but not read this delightful article: “Frankly, what passes for pizza abroad is all too often a travesty,” Neapolitan pizzaiolo Ciro Moffa has lamented. “Enough is enough!” Pizza in Naples, Italy is not just about the deliciousness of it but it deeply connected to the way of life, the community, civic pride, maintaining traditions, family recipes and the reputations of local pizzaiolos. Naples identifies itself as the “spiritual homeland” of pizza. Even with all of the changes of these modern days (including home delivery and pizza kits) or those brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, pizza is essential to life in this city. That’s a philosophy we can surely agree with. 03/14/2021
We were wondering, how did chocolate candy in heart-shaped boxes come to be synonymous with Valentine’s Day? We discovered that this holiday tradition took a circuitous route, like many things in history. First there was the holiday itself, St. Valentine’s Day, which was named after two saints although neither one was associated with romantic love. Combined with the gift boxes that were deemed to be socially acceptable during the Victorian era and Richard Cadbury, a member of the famous chocolate manufacturing family, the stage was set for us on how we celebrate this special day. For the full story, go to history.com. 02/14/21
A recent study of over 500 people conducted by scientists at the University of Edinburgh showed, by a statistically significant basis, that people who follow a Mediterranean diet had the highest level of cognitive skills even when other factors are accounted for such as physical activity and smoking. The Mediterranean diet components best associated with cognition are leafy green vegetables and reduced red meat intake. For more on this study, click on study. For delicious Mediterranean diet recipes, we highly recommend chef and food writer, Diane Kochilas. 02/14/21.
We are well into 2021 and things are looking and feeling A LOT like 2020. Except, good news, there are some exciting things ahead for us food and beverage trends-wise. In a recent article by Huffington Post, according to “two seasoned food trend experts”, we will be seeing more plant-based foods, which we could have predicted, and fermented foods and foods made with the delicious chickpea are some of the foods that will be trendsetters in 2021. To read the full article and complete list of 2021 food trends, go to: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/new-food-and-drink-2021_l_5fc7b931c5b6a8bde234144f.
Finally some good news for restaurants and bars during Covid-19, or at least not more bad news. On February 5, 2021, Congress’ Covid-19 relief package bill under President Joe Biden was passed by the Senate and it includes a Restaurant Rescue Plan. This Plan commits $25 billion solely for the devastated restaurant industry. The entire relief bill will go to the House of Representatives for approval. To read more about this, go to https://www.foodandwine.com/news/senate-passes-restaurant-rescue-plan-relief-bill-2021.
Possibly an early-day plant-based diet advocate President Woodrow Wilson supported “Meatless Tuesdays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays”. Actually, he did that to support food rationing during World War I. In celebration of the upcoming inauguration of President Elect Joe Biden, check out fun food facts about some of our former USA presidents on https://foodinsight.org/all-the-presidents-food-presidential-food-facts-infographic/.
In a recent interview with Yahoo.com, Chef Jose Andrés of World Central Kitchen stated that he has advised Joe Biden on the need for a new position within the Biden administration, a “Secretary of Food”. This position would be separate from the Department of Agriculture and it would “oversee communications among various agencies and bring both practical and political insight into food and hunger to the White House and appropriate policy makers.” In the interview, Chef Andres wisely stated: “We need to understand one thing: … that Food is immigration. Food is health. Food is national security. Food is job creation. Food is economic growth.” For the full interview, please go to: https://news.yahoo.com/chef-jose-andres-pushing-biden-for-creation-of-a-food-czar-235113871.html.
The MasterClass website (www.masterclass.com) has a list of the “Must Have Pantry Staples” of Alice Waters. The list includes most of the items you would expect, including garlic, olives and fresh herbs, but also a few others that are good reminders to have on-hand (pickles made from veggies purchased from your local farmers market, and sauerkraut). For the complete list (and to make sure there are no gaps in your pantry), go to https://www.masterclass.com/articles/chef-alice-waterss-must-have-pantry-staples#alice-waterss-20-musthave-pantry-staples.
The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services released their Dietary Guidelines for Americans for the period of 2020-2025. These Guidelines are updated every five years, and are science-based advice on what to eat and drink to promote good health and lower the risk of chronic diseases. For the full set of Guidelines, go to https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov.
Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio podcast (Episode #501) features an interview with the chef extraordinaire and cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi on his new cookbook Big Flavors. If you are an Ottolenghi fan, be sure to catch this podcast episode. This podcast is delightful and chock-a-block full of interesting information, such as did you know that there is certain style of restaurant named after Ottolenghi, like other famous people in history such as George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., inventor of the “Ferris” wheel. For full details about this podcast, go to https://www.177milkstreet.com/radio.
SlowFood USA’s blogs on its website, https://slowfoodusa.org/blog/, are an excellent source of information about food sustainability. SlowFood’s mission is to create food systems that reconnect us with each other, traditions, plants, animals, the soil and water that produce our food. In addition to its blogs, SlowFood USA offers free webinars on a range of topics including farming, fermentation, cooking classes, cookbooks and recipes.
The New York Times published an article by Kim Severson entitled “How Will We Eat in 2021? 11 Predictions to Chew On“. This article lists the food trends for 2021, including the vegetable of the year will be … the vegetable of your choice (by the way, we did not know that celtuce was 2019’s vegetable of the year), and the flavor of the year in 2021 will be … Basque burnt cheesecake (we did not see that one coming either). For the full article, go to https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/22/dining/food-trends-predictions-2021.html
Smithsonian Magazine listed its “Ten Best Books About Food of 2020“. We were curious to see which books they selected. They all are books we would like to read but two stood out to us as must reads: How to be a Conscious Eater: Making Food Choices that are Good for You, Others, and the Planet by Sophie Egan, and In Bibi’s Kitchen – The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean by Hawa Hassan. For the full top ten list, go to https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/ten-best-books-about-food-2020-180976406/.