If you’re doing or thinking of doing the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, or if you’ve already done it. I appreciate your enthusiastic support of efforts to end that terrible disease. I have been asked a number of times why I haven’t done the ice bucket challenge.

This is why. I had the life-changing experience (thank you Catherine, Eva) of seeing the beautiful Sahel – the lower Sahara where people, women often with children, must walk MILES to get water. Water that we get to take for granted many times a day. One day I was awoken by a beautiful sweet singing outside my window. In my sleepy-headed state, I scrambled to find my camera and run to the window. Through the roll down screen I saw a woman walking by. She was singing to herself as she stopped to take her load off her head and re-balance it, then place it back her head and continued on her way.

sangha commuter adjusting load

I wanted to see where she was going, I didn’t recall a well near the hotel when we’d checked in.

off to work

I threw on something and went outside to see where the path she was following was headed. I saw her and other women, all following the same trail, as far as the eye could see. The Sahel is flat. I could see pretty far at that point. Then it hit me: this was her morning commute. Early to beat the blazing sun. Women walked. And walked. Many with babies on their backs.

bandiagara commuters

dawn_sanghaIt was only later when our driver took us passed suddenly lush green fields – I realized this was where they were WALKING to – to tend the fields of green onions. An unlikely oasis of green, miles from their simple mud huts.


oasis well (1)

Other women I saw as we hiked to our cliff and La Falaise hike, were walking miles to a well. This was two years ago, not a tap in sight.

baobob dusk

When I returned to Boston, I could not bear to see a faucet run or even an ice cube wasted. I always thought how long and hard women worked for every drop in Mali.

Bandiagara well

Cow well

Cow well (1)

Please watch this heartwarming clip and donate what you can, where you wish. ALS is a horrendous disease and we’re contributing to that cause, too. So very many could use that water we’re tossing about to make a point. Could we donate without wasting water? Or donate as well to help those who have not a drop to spare?

September Campaign 2014 Trailer: The Sahel from charity: water on Vimeo.

 

Right now a donor is matching every dollar up to $1,000,000.

Do what you can.

Print Friendly
Share

{ 0 comments }

I was delighted to speak with Charlotte McGuinn Freeman and Maryn McKenna of National Geographic column, The Plate.

Bring Back Home Economics: Three Food Writers on Teaching People to Cook – The Plate: Maryn McKenna.

The three of us were inspired by the success of Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap, a cookbook designed to address the needs of people receiving public assistance, showing them how to cook on an extremely limited budget. See Could You Eat Well on $4 a Day?

Many of us manage to feed ourselves and our families  well, while many more struggle with the basics. Some lacking money, some lacking skills, for others it’s both. Have you ever come home from grocery shopping and wondered what the heck to do with all the random stuff you bought? So often people have mentioned to me that they don’t know how to roast a chicken.

Cast Iron Cooking

The topic of how to use a CIS never gets old (see the Kitchn for this recent post and its long comment thread). I love my cast iron skillet and it’s the perfect vessel for people on a budget. They’re cheap They’re nearly indestructible. They are multi-purpose tools that can be used to fry, roast, and bake. In fact, the older they get, the better.

Five steps to roasted chicken

 

On Gastrodiplomacy and Teaching Cooking

One of the ideas I’ve had for “selling” the need to schools to reinstate home ec is to make it an interdisciplinary learning platform. It’s easy to use cooking as a way to teach simple things to youngsters (e.g. which is wet? which is dry? which bowl is the biggest? the smallest?) all the way up to university (culinary anthropology, history, politics of the plate and just this week the first PhD of Chocolate program was announced.)

As if by magic while I was photo editing, magically, this link appeared today in my Facebook stream. Gastrodiplomacy: Cooking up a Tasty Lesson on World Peace. At American University they’re doing just this sort of food-centric interdisplinary teaching, though there it seems to be centered around eating out, rather than cooking. No reason we couldn’t have both.

During our chat, we lamented the old days of the Food Network. When Molto Mario had the pull-down map and would cook while teaching history, geography. Alton Brown’s Good Eats that teaches very basics to fancy stuff in a straightforward and entertaining fashion.

While we think about food, cooking as a life skill and how to reinvent Home Economics, let’s first just roast a simple chicken.

Cast Iron Skillet Chix

I realized I keep thinking of this as “CIS Chix” Cast iron skillet chicken. “CIS” is a new term used in the field of gender identity studies and advocacy. It’s a way to challenge the assumed majority behind the current thinking of gender. Rather than “transgender” as the “other” we can view sexuality on a continuum from CIS to Trans, CIS simply means someone who identifies with the gender that would be culturally assigned to the sex one has been assigned at birth. So I’m CIS female, identifying myself as female and having been born with those parts.

So dinner + an update from the gender identity front. Learning makes me hungry. Let’s go!

 

Step 1 – Get a CIS

They are so very useful and cheap. You will use it a lifetime and then hand it down to some fortunate friend, nephew or niece. In fact, a garage sale is an excellent place to scoop one up for cheap. They’re easy to recondition. They’re also cheap new. But any way, just get one already.

Step 2 - Get a chicken

Commercial chickens are fed such horrible diets and are raised in such awful ways, that we limit our intake to Lilac Hedge Farms or Bell & Evans from Whole Foods.

Step 3 – Optional step – air dry chicken

Letting chicken rest in fridge nekkid, will allow the skin to dry out. This is a good thing if you like crispy skin. Overnight is best but even 1-3 hours will help. This method of roasting makes it less necessary than regular lower heat roasting but I try to do this when I can because I adore crunchy, crispy things.

Step 4a – Optional – herb butter

Again, totally optional. If you’re at all new and feel overwhelmed. Skip it. You can simply rub a little oil or butter and sprinkle with S&P. Really. It’ll be fine.

If you are inclined, chop some herbs up, maybe mash some garlic with some salt and then mix with softened butter. Or maybe you have a dried herb blend you could add to butter or oil. You can slide some between the breast meat and skin. And/or simply massage your bird with the seasoned oil or butter.

CIS Chicken 7

Step 4 – Pop the thighs open

The chicken’s, not yours. That comes later if you like. Right now simply grasp the drumstick and thigh and bend down/outward from the body. You will feel a pop and see the tip of the thigh bone peek out. This is good. When your bird hits that preheated skillet, the dark meat will instantly begin to cook. This evens out the differential between the breast meat and thigh meat. A common challenge is cooking the thigh meat thoroughly enough without drying out the breast meat. This technique solves that issue.

Step 5 – Preheat oven to 500 degrees with the skillet

Place your empty skillet into your clean oven and preaheat to 500. That’s a very hot oven. (Most chickens roasted in conventional ways go into a 350 or so oven.) Once the oven and skillet are preheated, carefully slide that hot pan out and place your chicken right on that dry, screaming hot skillet.

CIS Chicken 6

Now, you will have 30-40 minutes to do with, what you like.

CIS Chicken 10

At 30 minutes, I usually add some greens to the pan. Carefully, with tongs. The greens will begin to wilt in the hot pan and rendered chicken fat (mmm chicken fat). This particular day I added chard (stems chopped, leaves cut into ribbons) and two cloves of garlic, sliced thin. I had these GIANT leaves of rainbow chard so I just used two leaves.

CIS Chicken Chard

I also began my potatoes roasting. Back around step three, you can place potatoes in a pot of boiling water and par cook, till they’re tender but not fully done. Then in our final roasting step, you add a sheet pan to the oven with some schmaltz or duck fat or high heat oil (not olive oil, it will burn). Again, the hot pan starts the crisping of the potatoes.
CIS Chicken 14When the potatoes are done, drain the water, toss some smoked paprika, salt and pepper with the potatoes you’ve lightly smashed in the hot pan. Put the lid back on and shake the bejezus out of it. This will coat all those potatoes with the seasoned flour. Scrape all that good stuff onto the pre-heated sheet pan, and back into the oven. Toss them around the pan to get some fat/oil on all the potatoes.

Your chicken will be done around the 40 minute mark. Carefully remove that hot iron pan and beautiful bird – placing on a trivet or the stovetop. (I like to leave a potholder on the handle of the pan to remind myself not to grab it. The CIS will retain heat for a long time.) Let the chicken rest. Resist picking at the crispy bits if you can.

CIS Chicken 12

If you’d like something fresh, you can toss chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, thinly sliced onion with some olive oil and a splash of vinegar. These are purple cherokees and green zebras.


CIS Chicken 15 CIS Chicken 16



 

 

Print Friendly
Share

{ 0 comments }

The Wrong Kind of Surprise – Epi-Pen? Check. Clear tote? Check? Potential Disaster? Check.

August 11, 2014

I was packing for my quick trip to Maryland, having been invited to a pre-season Redskins-Patriots game by my brother. Thanks Mike! It was great fun and my first time Tailgating. My first time – I wasn’t enjoying it at all. Mike knows more about the game than most people, and also about the cheerleaders. […]

Print Friendly
0 comments Read the full article →

My eye on the sparrows

August 6, 2014

I’m not a religious person but that old song about ‘his eye on the sparrow’ came to me watching these delightful birds this morning. In the original (and the Barretta theme song version) I think the tune is meant to encourage us to leave our cares behind because Jesus is watching over us, keeping his […]

Print Friendly
0 comments Read the full article →

GGF Salad :: Grains + Greens + Fruit = Wonderful

August 4, 2014

This salad is a fantastic summer meal in itself, a great bring-with dish, and a side for barbecue. To make a quick version, use freekeh (cooks in 20 minutes!) or quinoa or barley. Barley and freekeh are quicker cooking grains, you could also use quinoa (not true grain) or bulgur (wheat) if you like a […]

Print Friendly
2 comments Read the full article →

Could You Eat Well on $4 a Day? A Cookbook to Help Food Stamp Recipients Cook Cheaply Becomes a Massive Viral Hit

August 1, 2014

Four dollars a day. What could you do with four dollars a day that would feed your family? You might be surprised.   Maryn McKenna brings us this fantastic story of an upcoming cookbook (available now on PDF) that aims to fill in a critical gap between food assistance and eating well on a budget, […]

Print Friendly
2 comments Read the full article →

Coconut Chai Panna Cotta

July 29, 2014

This is an easy recipe that comes together in minutes. I was inspired by two beautiful mangos, sitting on a platter in my kitchen. I also drew inspiration from Josh Lewin’s list of indispensible Indian ingredients. A nice prelude to his upcoming Bread & Salt dinner, you should go if you haven’t dined with Josh and […]

Print Friendly
0 comments Read the full article →

Save the Date! September 9!

July 24, 2014

I got 99 reasons why you should save this date….9/9 get it? Can’t wait to get my hands on this. Wonder what would go well with oysters? We’ll have some excellent news in this regard very shortly. Stay tuned, bookmark this site and save September 9. In the meantime, allow me to whet your whistle.. […]

Print Friendly
0 comments Read the full article →

Welcome to the Oyster Century Club©!

July 10, 2014

Find out why BostInno said we’re one of 5 social clubs in Boston that you must join! Tasting our way through 100 varieties of oysters with prizes for milestones along the way. (Congratulations Larry Yu for winning the first one!) To get the ball rolling, the first 10 members to join will receive autographed copies of the definitive […]

Print Friendly
1 comment Read the full article →

Are You a Member? 5 Boston Social Clubs You Need to Know About | BostInno

July 8, 2014

We are delighted to be one of five Boston Social Clubs, BostInno singled out for “must join” status! We welcome all new members and have some exciting events on the horizon. Come slurp and sip and laugh and learn with us! We’ll tell you why the old “R” month rule is passé and share favorite […]

Print Friendly
1 comment Read the full article →