Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dinner improv

Some days, I have no idea what to make for dinner. So I headed to the local grocery store and found myself at the fish counter. "Sure," I heard myself saying to the guy who had just asked, "Can I help you?" "I'll take a pound of those mussels." Except I'd never cooked mussels before and wasn't certain I'd bought enough for two servings, much less what to do with them when I got home.

Armed with some knowledge from the Food Network and a couple recipes as reference, I managed to whip up a pretty tasty dinner with stuff I had in the cupboards:




Moules Provencale
(adapted from a recipe on
serves 2

1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c vegetable broth or white wine
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
pinch each of dried basil, herbes de Provence, and sugar
1 lb mussels, scrubbed and beards removed

In a large pot, saute onion and garlic until soft. Add broth or wine and let reduce slightly, then add tomatoes and seasonings. Bring to a simmer, then add mussels. Cover and continue to simmer lightly until the mussels open, which only take a few minutes. Discard any mussels that haven't opened.

Serve over your favorite skinny pasta (I used capellini) with some crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

My food philosophy

The Anthropologist, in his attempt to get me to start thinking about writing my own food book, asked me a couple weeks ago to write a paragraph on what my philosophy is regarding food. It has definitely changed over the last couple years, as I read more about humane and sustainable eating and think more about how I shop (both for food and for other things). While I probably spend more time contemplating my food choices than the average person does, I feel good about the decisions I make.

So, without further ado, here is what I wrote for my "assignment":

For me, food should be real. This means food should be made of wholesome, natural ingredients with names I can actually pronounce. I prefer that these ingredients come out of the ground or from the animal in as unadulterated form as possible. I think if food is going to come out of a box or a can or a bag, these “convenience foods” should be viewed as an occasional treat, not as something that is the mainstay of every meal.

Food should be something that both sustains us and is enjoyable. I believe food should be nutrient-dense, that the calories our bodies take in should be joined by vitamins, minerals, and fiber that occur naturally in the food. This same food should also be a pleasure to eat because it tastes good.

It is important to me that we know the source of our food. Yes, Old McDonald had a farm, and on that farm he had some chickens, some of which laid the eggs for our breakfast and some of which became the roast chicken legs for dinner. Food does not come “from the grocery store” — it comes from the dirt and from animals that were once living and breathing.

Finally, food should be produced in ways that sustain the environment, provide fair wages to workers, and humanely treat animals. When we purchase food, we are, as Marion Nestle puts it, “voting with our forks” by choosing to support the conglomerate or the organic farmer or anyone else in between. I aim for my food to be as locally-produced as possible, with the exceptions of chocolate, coffee, spices, and sugar.