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mercredi 26 janvier 2011

Day 151: Baby Food

I've been detoxing this week, and after a few days of subsisting on smoothies and soup my reduced regime has got me thinking about puréed foods and people that love them. While the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and the elderly are huge proponents of easy to process foods, I think the biggest fans of blended delights would have to be babies. They can't get enough of almost anything mixed together and put in a petit pot.

As an adult, I too can understand the benefits of a very veggie and parfois puréed daily menu. I was pleasantly surprised by the heartiness (and tastiness) of the brocolli and arugala soup I made the other day, and my interest is peeked in regards to the Super Greens Juice (Kale, Pears, Celery, and Ginger) that I'm supposed to eat later this week.

But it's not just the taste or simplicity of these dishes that is intriguing- it's also the fact that I can make them for a fraction of the cost that I would pay for a smoothie or soup in the market. The fact that I use whole foods, no dairy, and have a blender at home makes the choice to eat puréed veggies an obvious one, both economically and health-wise.

It is for these reasons that I, a childless and semi-unemployed blogger, am going to just go ahead and say, I think it's a good idea for everyone to make their own baby food. I've qualified this because I'm not a mom, I have a lot of free time, and I have a blender.

If you differ from me in any of these ways and don't think becoming a Chef Baby-dee is an option, I totally understand. But, recent articles that mommies have sent me about the questionable safety of the plastic packaging that many baby foods are sold in, as well as the plastic bottles used to feed infants everyday, have made me think that DIY baby food production may be a more reassuring choice, as well.

Also, packaging is wasteful. If you can't re-use it, then it's bad news for everyone- why not invest in buying glass containers that you can use and reuse, without any risk to Mother Earth and Baby Human? I buy yogurt at biocoop in a super convenient-sized glass container, the buy-in is around 2.50€ but I get to eat the yogurt and then I reuse and share the poison-free containers.

So, I'm going to keep on blending leafy greens, but for those of you with babies, or planning to have them, I'm going to throw in some recipes (along with total cost of ingredients, do the math if you're not sold on the idea! *all veggie prices are in organic, chez biocoop). These recipes are for babies aged

Carrot Purée*

2-3 carrots (1.84€/kilo, appx. .89€ for 3)

Step 1: Skin and Steam your carrots (or boil in a little water) until tender. Save the water for later, it may be needed.

Step 2: Move carrots to blender (or a bowl if your using a hand held mixer**). Mix/blend/mash. Make sure there aren't any lumps- you can get rid of any tricky chunks that won't break down.

Step 3: Let your purée cool down. Try it out on the bundle of joy. If she's into it, put the rest away in your glass container and save in the fridge for no more than 5 days.

*Replace carrots with potatoes, broccoli, etc. or fruits like bananas and pears, then repeat the same steps to come up with other purées.

**If you have neither blender nor mixer, steam your carrot until it's tender enough to mash with a fork, adding the reserve water to help liquify your purée.

Cod & Broccoli Purée

1 filet of cod or another white fish, make sure it's BONELESS (22.29€/kilo)
1/2 head of brocolli
(2.24€/kilo, appx. 1€ per head)

Step 1: Thouroughly wash your fish and veg (if you have a bamboo steaming basket that is ideal for this recipe, then you can boil the fish and stem the broc at the same time, if not you can do it in two seperate pots).

Step 2: For the fish: Bring a cup of water to a simmer and submerge your fish in the water. Leave it there until it turns bright white. Remove from heat and let poach in the water for another few minutes.
For the brocolli: Steam until bright green.

Step 3: Let your fish and broccoli cool down. Pat the fish dry and do a paranoid check for any bones.

Step 4: Mix/blend/mash and dinner's served.

*You can liven this up by using a homemade broth instead of water.

Libellés : , , , , ,

lundi 17 janvier 2011

Day 142: Quel est votre marché préféré?

Paris est plein des marchés dans chaque coin et quartier. Chaque mois je choisis un à visiter (regardez ici pour tous les billets « Marché du Mois »). Je voudrais connaître tous les marchés de Paris, mais cela va prendre un peu de temps!

C'est pour cette raison que je viens vers vous pour des conseilles; quel est votre marché parisien préféré? Quelle est votre producteur ou vendeur préféré?

Si vous avez des bons adresses, ne hésitez pas de les suggéré! Après je choisirai un des marchés pour le Marché du Mois de février!

Libellés :

samedi 15 janvier 2011

Day 140: Marché of the Month: Marché Monge

As I eagerly walked to meet my guy and take him to lunch at the linen table-clothed and much talked about restaurant Le Timbre (3 rue Sainte-Beuve 75006; lunch menu 24-30 euro), I arranged a two-bird's-with-one-stone situation and stopped at this month's Marché: Le Marché Monge.

Clément had told me that he noticed quite a few organic stands sprouting up at this small market, which takes over the charming Place Monge every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 7h-13h, so I thought it would be worth taking a look.

The Market packs a lot into the little Place, with not only veggie vendors, but florists, apiculturists, and even clothing and pots and pan hawkers counting themselves amongst thehabitués of the marché.

If I hadn't been saving myself for my meal later, I definately would've bought some veggie spring rolls off the lady who sold asian-style soups, rolls, raviolis, and noodles-along with most of the necessary ingredients to make your own at home. But given my lunch plans, I was more of a spectator at the market and favored my eyes over my appetite.

The more I visit markets, the more I am aware and able to size up what I see around me. For example, it's true that the Marché Monge has some certified organic stands (2 to be exact), but these stands seem to offer a middle ground between the two extremes of the market: the industrial and the local.

Most people think that open air markets should automatically offer the opposite of industrial food, but as I purused the merchandise I was disappointed and annoyed to see shiny, almost plastic looking, apples arranged neatly in rows in the plastic bin at one of the market's stands.

Each apple had been branded with a sticker, bringing shame to the fruit and the other vendors, some of whom were farmers who had brought the fruits of their labor and most of which- like the vendors at the organic stands (who most likely buy their goods from Rungis or another wholesale market and bring it into the city) probably have a certain respect for the quality of the food they sell.

good apples


bad apples

It was a relief therefore, to find a few farmers who had brought their dirty and homegrown vegetables with them that day. And among the farmers' stands there was one clear star: Marc Mascetti and his team from Marcoussis.

Mascetti's farm is only 34 kilometers south of Paris. When I asked where exactly the farm was, Marc gave me these directions: "When the sun is at high noon, look at it and then walk 34 kilometers south".

While I'm not sure I would let Marc and his questionable sense of direction drive on a road trip, I was happy to have him guide me through the selection of vegetables he had brought with him that day.

Marc is clearly a popular guy at the market and he often stops selling in order to chat with regulars and gently tease them (he convinced a little girl that the incredibly unattractive crônesthat he was selling were actually magots that he sold to fishermen).

Marc went on to explain that crônes are on their way to extinction, as most people don't know what they are and have a hard time recognizing them as food. Add to that the fact that they have some unpleasant gas-inducing side effects, this little légumeseems destined to disappear.

True to my maudlin American marrow, I was moved by the sad story of the really, truly unappetizing crônes and I asked Marc for a handful. He was kind enough to throw in a few Topinambours(Jerusalem Artichokes). I then asked for 4 pears and paid my 2.80 € bill (See, buying local doesn't have to be expensive!) and continued on my way, shunning the shiny apples and happy with my dirty and pretty gross looking purchases.

Marché Monge
Place Monge, 75005
M° Place Monge (Line 7)
Wednesday, Friday, and
Sunday; 7h-13h

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mercredi 12 janvier 2011

Day 137: DIY Sauerkraut

The combination of the abundance of cabbage this time of year, the mouth-watering suggestions tweeted by FarmhouseKraut, and the fact that I received a brand new 2.75 liter Marmite for Christmas has inspired some pretty steady DIY Sauerkraut production in my household. I've made a few batches so far this year, each time experimenting with new ingredients and the length of fermentation.

Sauerkraut is amazingly simple to make. At its most basic, Kraut requires minimal ingredients (cabbage and salt) and can be used in a variety of ways (favorite suggestions include kraut and tuna sandwiches, bloody marys spiked with kraut juice, and Choucroute de Poisson).

Here is a recipe that I took from Sandor Katz's book, Wild Fermentation . I highly suggest you pick up his book and check out his other fermentation recipes, as well as his suggestions for what you can add to your kraut. Thus far, I've included juniper berries, apples, brussel sprouts, and black radishes in my concoctions. If any of you have any interesting spins on Sauerkraut I'd love to hear them! Until then, here's the super simple recipe to get you started:


Cabbage- the amount depends on your fermentation vessel. I used 4 cabbage heads for my 2.75 liter marmite. Keep in mind that the cabbage will reduce greatly in size as it secretes its juices and ferments, so you can really fill up whatever crock you're fermenting in.

Sea Salt- 3 tbsps for every 5 lbs (2.2 kilos) of cabbage.

Optional: apples, radishes, different types of cabbage, juniper berries, whatever you think might work.

It's also nice to drink a glass (or two) of white wine during the process. For those of you who like cooked kraut, you can bring the whole thing full circle later when you heat it up with a cup or so of white wine.


Step 1: You can either chop your cabbage by hand or use an electric grater to get really finely shredded cabbage. I slice it by hand because it's easy and I like a chunkier kraut.

Step 2: As you chop your cabbage, throw it in a bowl and sprinkle it with salt as you go. Introduce your fruit or other veggies into this process.

Adding the salt gets the cabbage and oter additions to release their liquids, which make up the brine that your kraut will ferment in.

Step 3: Once you've chopped all your kraut ingredients and added all the salt, spend some time hand mixing it all up and getting some of the juices flowing. You can rub the salt in more and keep at it until your mixture gets a little liquidy.

Step 4: Put the cabbage, salt, etc. mixture into your crock/glass jar/fermenting container, packing it down really hard as you go. Packing the cabbage will get it to release more and more liquid.

Step 5: Add your weight to the crock so the kraut is submerged in its brine. I place a plate on the cabbage and weigh it down with glass jars filled with water.

Step 6: Don't worry if you're kraut isn't super briney to begin with, it can take about 24 hours to get enough brine for the kraut to be submerged in. I usually make my kraut in the morning or afternoon so that I can periodically apply more pressure to the weights throughout the day.

Do this whenever you walk by your Kraut and once there's enough brine, you can just let fermentation do its thing. I didn't grow up on kraut and the taste is pretty new (and strong) to me, so for now I'm stopping my kraut young- after about a week- but for stronger tasting kraut.

I hope you enjoy this easy seasonal recipe- send photos or recipe ideas if you feel inspired. Until then, happy fermentation and bon appetit!

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dimanche 9 janvier 2011

Day 134: Farm City by Novella Caprenter

For Christmas this year, my thoughtful kid sister sent me Novella Carpenter's endearing and educational book, Farm City (Penguin, 2009). I devoured it from cover to cover in a matter of days.

The book narrates Carpenter's experiences as an Urban Farmer, cultivating an abandoned lot next to her Oakland apartment, located in a sketchy area of the city known as "Ghost Town". The author adopts the name and characteristics of the neighborhood and applies them to her farm, which she describes in both the book and her blog.

While mixing both literal root-down activism and information regarding the logistics of urban agriculture with metaphors of food as community and the universal among all living organisms, Novella Carpenter presents a story that is both heartfelt and heartwarming, as well as motivational for anyone interested in getting their hands dirty (and even bloody) by embracing their food source.

For those of you already interested in urban gardening, I'll leave (and urge) you to pick up the book and learn along with Novella as she harvets squash and slaughters animals.

For those of you that aren't yet interested in this topic, and especially for my Parisian readers, I'd like to point out the fact that food production in an urban environment is of inescapable importantance to every city dweller.

An article written by journalist and Slow Food France convivium member, Pascale Brevet, entitiled "Farms Flee the Cities: Can Paris and Milan Feed Themselves?" points out the fact that urban development along with the installation of Rungis the wholesale food market outside of Paris, has led to the city's depravation of local foods and an almost total dependence on "oil-fed transportation" or food that is brought in from the distant countryside. In the article, Brevet warns, "If the transportation systems were to fail, food would run out on supermarket shelves within days."

Add to this scary reality the fact that it hasn't always been that way in Paris. Carpenter points out in her book that in 19th century Paris urban farms located in the Marais neighborhood "grew an annual total of 100,000 tons of vegetables".

There is more encouraging news, as Carpenter recounts that cities where urban gardening thrives are capable of producing a large percentage of the vegetables eaten by their residents. "Shanghai" the author explains, "raises 85 percent of its vegetables within city limits" which leads to a much lesser risk of running out of resources, and running into empty store shelves.

Obviously these days the Marais is occupied by overpriced clothings stores and restaurants and vacant plots of land are few and far between (thought they do exist, check out Day 51 for my article on community gardens in the 18th), making reaping a harvest of any sustainable proportions seem unlikely.

So why even bother? Carpenter argues that these food yielding plots of land are not urban islands, but part of a larger whole writing, "Urban farms have to be added together in order to make a farm. So when I say I'm an urban 'farmer,' I'm depending on other urban farmers, too. It's only with them that our backyards and squatted gardens add up to something significant."

After reading Farm City I look at my little balcony garden differently, with the green sprouts of my black radishes and the lettuce seedlings that survived the sleet and snow existing as a part of a bigger picture, fitting in somewhere along with the rooftop bee hives at the Opera and, I hope, whatever you're thinking of growing this year.

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mercredi 5 janvier 2011

Day 131: Organic in Italy: Part Two

In an attempt to drag out the beneficial effects of holiday taking, the sequel of my "Organic in Italy" series will take us to the sun-bathed Southern region of Italy, more specifically Naples and Capri.

Naples was our New Year's destination, and an ideal destination it proved to be. Every year, the city dwellers (Napolitans? Napoleans seems strange...ideas?) buy ample amounts of fire works in the streets and prepare to provide the city with a personalized pyrotechnic extravaganza, as the city prepares no official New Years celebration or fireworks display.

A mixture of celebration of the new year and indignation against the government, the events of this year were particularly à propos as Naples' "waste management issue" (as its referred to in a this Wikipedia article) was particularly noticeable. The trash that piled high around the city's trashcans during our visit was a sign of the poor organization and lack of foresight on the part of the city and it's complicit partners (i.e. the mafia) with regards to this fundamental issue.

I do not have anywhere near an extensive understanding of this situation, but from talking to people about the "waste management issue" the horrific reality was hard to believe. For years, the Italian government has been shipping trash to the Naples region, without any sustainable plan for getting rid of it- the result is, as I said, horrific. Trash, including some radioactive and other toxic waste, has been buried under grounds where cows and buffalo used to produce mozzarella (the region's speciality) graze daily. The result is inedible local fare and the governement's response is no less disappointing- consisting essentially of the production of new incinerators and landfills, actions that barely even band-aid the situation.

Before we left Rome, a newspaper article reported Berlusconi's promise to have the trash cleared out of the streets before the 1st of January. That was on the 30th of December and we were doubtful of his capacity to follow through with such a promise.

Upon arriving in the city of Naples, which is a lively and enchanting city, we saw that the piles of trash that both marred and accentuated the charm of the city didn't seem to be going anywhere fast.

So, it is in this state of frustration with an inattentive government and a hope for good things to come in the future that Naples prepared to ring in the New Year. For our part, we prepared by seeing the sites and, of course, eating.

Our first culinary delight took place in Capri, where we spent the afternoon visiting a friend of our gracious host. This local Caprisian (?) gave us an insider's tour of the island, a place that would otherwise be rather offsetting with it's overabundance of weekenders wearing sunglasses despite a complete lack of risking direct sunlight in the eyes.

Our kind guide immediately dispelled any cynicism we may have approached the situation with, taking us first to Edivino (Vico Sella Orta, 10/A, Capri), a house-turned restaurant that is cosy and welcoming. Once inside, you feel like you've walked into everything a Pottery Barn store ever wanted to be. As we waited to order, a woman came out of the kitchen and grabbed a bunch of apples our of the shallow bowl that was on our table, "for a tart for tonight," she explained, reminding me that we weren't in a catalogue, but a real place, in Italy.

While waiting for our food to arrive, we took a tour of the house and its small gardens, which consisted of citrus trees and a fully functional vegetable garden with lettuce and rhubarb and celery just waiting to be plucked and eaten. Among the New Years Eve commotion and preparation, the team at Edivino prepared and served our lunch which, I am sorry to say, I don't have any pictures of, so you'll just have to take my word for how delicious looking it was.

The pasta dish was a simple mixture of a chunky tube pasta with olive oil, hints of garlic, steamed broccoli and white fish. It was absolutely amazing and the sign of good things to come.

Back in Naples after a stroll around Capri's Marina Piccola, we had a few drinks at the must-visit activist library/music & photography lovers HQ/bar Perdi Tempo and then set off for more food, this time right around the corner at the neighborhood Vegan and Organic Restaurant, Un SorRiso Integrale (Vico S. Pietra a Maiella 6, Naples).

The food at Un SorRiso Integrale was good, particularly the entrée of fried veggies in a paper cone. I had my first cheese-free meal in a while (a nice lactose break) with some good local organic white wine to wash it down.

As is often the case with vegan restaurants, the biggest pleasure may be just knowing that they exist. You could probably be more blown away by food in Naples, but I would still recommend Un SorRiso Integrale for any veggie voyager looking to order anything off the menu, instead of a macgyvered veggie option in a more traditional restaurant.

The next evening, we were invited to spend New Year's Eve at the home of a friend, celebrated photography and barkeep at Perdi Tempo. I was looking forward to seeing the infamous fireworks from their rooftop terrase while ringing in the New Year with my guy and our amici. What I didn't prepare for was the feast that our hosts had prepared for at least 30 people.

The plates consisted of Pasta, an amazing bell pepper salad (the bell peppers in Italy are the best I've ever had), lasagne, a huge plate of tiramisu, and, at midnight, the traditional plate of lentils and tripes which is meant to bring anyone who eats it money in the New Year.

Standing on the rooftop overlooking Naples and the dozens of fireworks showering the sky, I was overwhelmed by the little lights shining everywhere, reminders of a presence that couldn't be ignored, at least not that night. In the darkness all we could see were sparks and flashes, and for awhile no one saw or thought about the trash or the streets, we were all looking at the sky.

The next day, the main squares had magically been cleared of trash, but as we made our way back to the trains station, snaking through smaller side streets, we saw that Berlusconi still hadn't done anything to help those parts of the city.

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lundi 3 janvier 2011

Day 129: Organic in Italy: Part One

Happy New Year readers, I hope you enjoyed your holidays and are looking forward to great things to come in 2011!

The end of the year festivities took me on a tour of Southern Italy this year, where I enjoyed the region's incredible hospitality, culture, and cuisine. The trip took us to the countryside, the seaside, and a few cities in between. There is so much to be related after this action-packed week that I've decided to do this in two parts. Starting with my time in Rome and Viterbo and ending with our visit to Naples and Capri.

The day after Christmas, me and my guy headed to Rome, where we were greeted with a bottle of 2003 Brunello di Montalcino-Uccelliera, mozzarella di bufala, and artisinal olive oil.

Brunello is a true treasure as this wine, which is from the Southwestern part of Tuscany, is the most strictly regulated of Italian wines. It is made with 100% grapes from the Sangiovese region and then aged for 3 years in oak casks. The integrity of this wine is highly valued and rigidly enforced.

Brunello winemakers were entangled in a 2008 scandel which led investigators to follow up on claims that they were disobeying regulations by using other grape varieties in their wines. The scandel was all over the media, reflecting the seriousness with which Italians take Brunello wine regulations.

While I tasted quite a few Italian wines during our trip, it seemed clear that Brunello is a particular source of pride for Italian oenophiles, who were kind enough to introduce this truly enjoyable Italian product to a pair of foreigners.

The following day, we headed up North, stopping just short of Tuscany, in the town of Viterbo. We drove down a tattered country road as we navigated ourselves towards the pools of sulfery water that are open and free to the public. Here we witnessed a magnificent sunset and stripped down to our swimsuits, shivering in the last rays of sunshine before we jumped into the natural hot springs and watched stars take over the sky.

Bathing seems to be an ubiquitous theme in this region of Italy, with old bath houses being both preserved and used in many cities and recovered bath tubs being a recurrent element in fountains throughout Rome. While Italians seem to love bathing, I'd say this form of pleasure comes second to their favorite pastime- eating. So, after an hour or so of soaking, we braved the cold and covered up before heading over to the midieval city center of Viterbo for dinner.

While searching for a pizzeria, we stumbled upon 3DC Gradi (Via Cardinal la Fontaine 28, Viterbo, Italy) where front door was decorated with Slow Food stickers and the welcome was warm and satiating. After enjoying mineral water from the source, I was excited to savor in Slow Food whose origins are also rooted in Italy. Founded by the Italian Carlo Petrini, th Slow Food organization coordinates bi-annual conferences in Torino, Italy and advocates alternatives to fast food, as well as the preservation and continuation of artisinal food production.

Our meal began with a bountiful round of cheese and charcuterie plates and, for the first time in my 12 years of vegetarianism, I was tempted to indulge in the thin slices of ham that were ceaselessly being passed around the table. This, I learned, is how Italians eat- with each course containing a sampling of pasta, fish, meat, and veggies that are passed around with diners encouraging each other to taste bits of everything that has been ordered. I had a broccoli soup followed by smoked fish accompanied by olives and delicious local oranges finishing with a Panna Cotta with berry jam, and I tasted a little bit of everything around me, including olive oil and cinnamon sautéed potatoes and spaghetti with octopus and tomato sauce.

Here we also enjoyed my favorite Prosecco of the visit, a bottle of La Montina Franciacorta Brut, whose subtle yet surprising taste puts to shame any of its sweeter sisters and could stand up proudly to a French Champagne competitor.

Our visit to the countryside was a nice relief from the bustle of Paris, and our return to Rome allowed for a continuation of the calm we so sorely needed.

Rome is at its best a beautiful city with small streets and charming architecture that embraces warm colors and at its most intense it can be a daunting city, with monuments to it's heritage and history everywhere, one easily feels dwarfed and overwhelmed by their surroundings.

Happily, there we were brought to many lovely places to sneak into and sit down to enjoy local and organic food. One such place is the pizzeria Bir & Fud (Via benedetta 23, Trastevere neighborhood in Rome). Bir & Fud offers organic pizzas with seasonal specials and best of all it's a great place to find a huge selection of organic Italian beers. Their motto which starts off "Only living beers. Only Pizza from living starters." leads to a great evening enjoying beers you would never have expected to find in Italy.

Another organic sweet spot to hit while in Rome is Fior di Luna (Via della Lungaretta 96) which offers a selection of organic and artisinal geleto and chocolates. I must admit that my favorite gelato in Rome was found at Giolitti (Via Uffici del Vicario) where the gelato is topped off with homemade whipped cream and, I know this is what gelato is supposed to do, but it just melts in your mouth, not just literally, but figuratively. It's really, really good. However, Fior di Luna is worth a try and you can also pick up some organic and vegetarian snacks and sweets while you're there.

There's so much more to share, but I'm going to conclude Part One with a few words about the Center for Alternative Economy which is located right on the outskirts of Rome, in the Testaccio neighborhood.

The center is comprised of a boutique of handmade products from Paysannes, prisoners, and people from all over the world. Here you can buy bags and wallets, shirts and sneakers, coat hangers and coasters, that are all made by the vendors and often with organic and recycled materials.

On the opposite end of the Center lies an organic market where you can wander the endless aisles of organic pasta and pick up some organic olive oil, beers, breads, and cookies. The hub of the center seemed to be it's restaurant, which has a small menu of organic dishes and desserts that you can enjoy in their cafeteria.

The organization is a great community resource and includes a library and wide spaces for community events and organizations. I was very impressed to see such a complete and cohesive approach to forming a base for an economy that challenges our present system and includes fair trade, first source products, and locally produced food. I've never seen anything like this center before, and would love to hear of others that exist if anyone reading has any information.

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