Those of you who have been intrigued by my various Charcutepalooza posts over the past few months, and would like to try your hand at making your own "meat", but can't imagine taking the time to grind, season, stuff, and smoke your own charcuterie, this post is for YOU!
Archives for October 2011
I had the good fortune to attend Share Our Strength's Annual Leadership Conference last weekend in Baltimore, and I'd like to share a little bit about my experience there with you. The conference gathers most of the corporate and regional staff from each of the organization's divisions, along with some front-line volunteers (like me) in order that we can all meet, share best practices, learn more about the broader vision and efforts of the organization, and generally get inspired as hell.
As many of you know, I've been working with Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters program in Massachusetts as a chef instructor, teaching at-risk Moms (and a few Dads) how to shop for and cook healthy meals for their families, all on a limited budget. I love my work with these folks, and am so proud of the changes I see in them even over the short six week time horizon of each class. These souls are motivated to change and we provide them the tools to start their journey, it is awesome and rewarding work.
As great as Cooking Matters (CM) is however, it is only one of the initiatives championed by Share Our Strength. Along with CM, Share our Strength runs a number of fund raising events that are not only great fun, but a wonderful way to support the mission of SOS which is to end childhood hunger in the United States by 2015. Events such as Taste of the Nation, The Great American Bake Sale, Dine Out-No Kid Hungry, and A Tasteful Pursuit help the organization raise the money to support their Cooking Matters programs, as well as many other efforts aimed at combating childhood hunger.
Don't think you know a kid who struggles with hunger? Given the statistics listed below, I bet you do, and you don't even know it.
- 1 in 5 children in America, more than 16 million, struggle with hunger.
- Almost 15.7 million children in America live in poverty, and many of those who do live everyday with the threat of food insecurity.
- 18.6 million children benefit from SNAP (food stamps).
- Over 20 million children get a free or reduced-price school lunch on an average school day.
- Only 10.5 million children get a free or reduced-price school breakfast on an average school day.
- 6 out of 7 children do not get the free summer meals they are eligible for.
- Less than half of eligible children get free or reduced-price school breakfast.
Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned over the course of the conference I heard from a gentleman by the name of Bill Ludwig, who is the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Regional Administrator for the Southwestern US. In his presentation, Bill stated unequivocally that the problem is not a lack of food in this country, nor a lack of commitment at the Federal level earmarking enough of this food for our kids. The biggest problem, he said, is getting the food to the kids that need it.
When I heard him say that, a little speech bubble appeared over my head and in it was a picture of that old bumper-sticker that reads "Think Global, Act Local". You see, as with many seemingly impossible challenges, the key to making a real difference lies in local action. Hearing this, and understanding it in relation to the problem of childhood hunger in this country was a revelation, and had me feeling (dare I say it) optimistic, emboldened even, about our collective ability to eradicate the menace that is childhood hunger.
Knowing that getting more people involved in local initiatives is the real key to connecting our kids in need with nutritious food that is there for the taking, made the whole problem feel much more personal and manageable to me. Every person who engages in their local fight to end hunger, and every child that benefits from these efforts put us one step closer to our goal of "No Kid Hungry". For those of you willing to join the battle, I urge you to click HERE and see how your local Share Our Strength office is active in your community. Perhaps you've got the time and the skill set to help teach a Cooking Matters class like I do. Maybe your local SOS office will connect you with a local Food Bank or Community Kitchen that could use a pair of helping hands. Don't have time to volunteer, but are anxious to support the great work of this organization, then click HERE to take the "No Kid Hungry" pledge, learn more about childhood hunger in our country, and make a donation to do your part to end it.
Working together, and working locally, we can put an end to childhood hunger in the US. Please join me in making this fight a priority in your life so that one day soon we can say that at least here, in the wealthiest nation on the planet, there is No Kid Hungry.
Thanks so much – Steve
I have discovered homemade carnitas, and I am in love.
Not sure why it took me so long to make carnitas on my own, I mean I've loved them in great Mexican take-out joints for years, but for some reason never thought to make them myself. As you all know, I am a big fan of braising, and my favorite dish of all time is duck confit (another dish I've never made….doh!), so it should come as no surprise that carnitas and I are made for each other.
I found this recipe in the latest Bon Appétit and knew immediately that we had to make it. As the weather turns cooler here in the Northeast, braises like this tagine come screaming back into fashion. With the exception of freshly baked bread, there is nothing to compete with a delicious braise in the way it fills a home with hearty aromas and warmth. As it had been some time since we've had lamb around here, this dish was a perfect way to hop back into cool weather cuisine.
How many of you tremble at just the thought of making a soufflé?
I know, I know….I used to too.
But you know what? Of all the things in this world that you might legitimately fear, making a soufflé shouldn't be one of them. Really…. all the stories you've heard about having to tip-toe around the oven, or the need to speak in whispers when a soufflé is baking are all ridiculous. I'm not sure who started these nasty rumours, but I guarantee you that with just a little attention paid to timing, you too can deliver delicious and ethereally light soufflés to the table without breaking a sweat.
I love curries, and I mean all curries. Thai, Indian, Pakistani, Cambodian, you name an ethnic cuisine that boasts a curry and I'm all over it like…..well….
Like curry on rice!
It doesn't matter to me whether the curry is a long braised Indian lamb curry, or a quick to the table Thai version like this one here, there is just something special about the spice blends that define curries that I find very appealing. Some are scorching hot, others not so much, but one thing all curries share is a complexity and depth of flavor that I find absolutely addiciting.
No, this is not a picture of a "Nathan's" hot dog from the world renowned "Nathan's Famous" on Coney Island, NY.
This is even better!
Hey, I've got nothing against "Nathan's Famous" dogs, in fact of all the commercially made franks I've tried, they are my favorites, but these homemade beauties leave even Coney Islands' famed meat tube in the dust.
We were originally going to make these hot dogs for a Charcutapalooza challenge a few months back, but weren't able to schedule all the right folks in the kitchen to meet the deadline and so let the challenge pass. In the meantime, we've had the pleasure to meet the son of a friend, Nathan, who as a high school freshman, is already an accomplished cook. When he heard we were trying to find time to make hot dogs, he expressed an interest in joining in the fun.
We were happy to have him join us in the kitchen that day, plus let's face it, with a name like Nathan, this kid was born to make hot dogs!
In our seemingly endless effort to ferret out the best brownies on the planet, for you, our devoted readers, we come to you today with yet another contender for the title. Many of you will recall our first foray into "Baked NYC" territory with this post about them back in January. In it, we put the original "Baked" brownie to the test, and found we really loved it's deep dark flavor, and almost fudge like consistency.
Well, the guys at Baked Bakery in Brooklyn are back with not only a new cookbook called Baked Explorations , but also a new take on their now famous brownie. To put it simply, the Sweet and Salty Brownie is their original on steroids, and while we may hold steroids and all those stupid athletes that use them in low regard, in this instance, they are a VERY GOOD THING!
This little ditty has fast become one of our favorite condiments to have on-hand. Vibrant, light and fresh, it is equally at-home as a sandwich spread, a fajita topping, or a dip for chips. It's got a nice kick without being too much, and the acidity from the tomatillos and the 1/2 lime make your mouth sit up straight and give thanks. Hallelujah!
Never cooked with or eaten tomatillos before? Well, that's gonna change…..NOW!