Archives for posts with tag: New York Times
Bird on a cherry tree

Image by Vibragiel via Flickr

Cruising through the New York Times this morning, I came across a story about some of the trials and tribulations presented by wild landscape gardening.

Margie Ruddick is a landscape architect living in Philadelphia. She has nurtured a wild (and very beautiful) garden that doesn’t require watering, saves runoff water from going into the sewers and feeds the birds and neighbours. She is routinely questioned about her “wild ways” by the city, bylaw enforcement officers, and others.

I personally find this story inspirational. I had a lawn once. The first thing I did with this lawn was to rip up patches of it. I planted various ground-covers, heathers, lavender… however, I hadn’t thought to see what native plants would spontaneously germinate in my soil. This activity is even more exciting in a city setting; go to those abandoned lots, those cracks in the sidewalk, and you will find life.

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

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A few months ago, I read Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes.  I have put off sharing my book review with you because I know how very hard it can be to ingest this kind of information.  I feel like I need to personally understand how to manage sugar consumption before I go preaching about it to all of you.  But before I get to that point, I will at the very least, send this link along to you of an article by Gary Taubes featured in the New York Times titled Is Sugar Toxic? It is really important that this information gets out and people discuss it.  Let me know what you think!

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

From a Scottish recipe book: stock made from s...

Cock-a-leekie! All of a sudden, I see this method everywhere!

Nigella Lawson is a woman who knows food, and she’s not afraid to show her love for it.  In the last few weeks I have discovered a great recipe from her latest cookbook called Kitchen.  Beyond being tasty, this recipe has made my life much less complicated.

It is her mother’s Praised chicken.  In the last while, I have made this recipe once a week.  It gives me enough soup stock and chicken to make tasty soups and salads all week long.  Long ago, I remember someone from Saskatchewan telling me this is a great way to cook chicken because it made a delicious and clear stock. I thought that roasting chicken is the best way, so I never bothered with this other method.  Well, years pass, and I now see that I have been missing out on something both great and efficient.  Both the soup stock and the left over chicken are delicious.  AND most importantly, it saves me time by making a stock and cooking a chicken, all at once.

What I do each week goes something like this.  I enjoy the chicken as a hot meal on the first day.  Within the same hour of preparing the chicken, I distribute the stock into individual portions that I can reheat during the week.  I then take apart the chicken (by far, my least favourite job!) and put this in individual jars, so that I have portions ready for any kind of salad.  The rest is a matter of finding a little lettuce and a few veggies, and then I am set for the week!  Truly, this is fast food.  And it is affordable, even if I buy an organic chicken.

Earlier this week I also discovered a similar recipe in the New York Times.  It is a saké steamed chicken with ginger and scallions.

So, with many of my lunches being ultra-healthy and fast, it seems to make for a really nice week.  And as a bonus, I feel that I can relax when I decide to go for a small treat at my favourite café.  With balance, living is very beautiful.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

I recently read in the New York Times that women are not contributing to Wikipedia as much as men.  Anyone can contribute and yet approximately only 13% of the contributors are women!

What does this tell us?  It reflects who has time and interest in writing for Wikipedia.  It shows us who is comfortable with the process of adding to Wikipedia.  It also shows us who sees themselves as an authority capable of writing on a particular topic.  It tells us what women are not doing in this public forum.

I can tell you that this is a little shocking for me to read.  Are not the universities at present populated with more female students than male students?  It’s clear that women are increasing their status as public authorities. Why are women not, then, sources of authority on Wikipedia?

So, here’s something to add to the to-do list.  Contribute something to Wikipedia.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

None - This image is in the public domain and ...

Image via Wikipedia

I have the flu. I’m pretty sure you can’t catch it from me by reading this, so don’t be afraid. Because I have the flu, I am researching a bit more about healthy eating and smart practices.

Yes, it has been an overtly festive end to 2010, and now it is time to get 2011 off to a good start. The flu serves as a reminder… reminder to Take It Simple. I came across this article in the New York Times today, It is a great little uncomplicated bit that even someone delirious with flu can read and take to heart.

This flu on the new year reminds me of the excellent article that Tammy wrote several weeks ago. I would emphasise to use her list and get your pantry ready before the flu strikes you down…

Natasha Henderson in Montreal

Happy Birthday Grandma!  Today is my grandma’s birthday and I am thinking about the ways she has inspired me over the years.  She has always been a great cook and has cooked her entire life.  At one point, she owned a famous deli with fresh made soups and cinnamon buns she served daily.  My grandma has always had abundant energy, which she has focused in the direction of her loved ones.  She has daring humour, and it can be surprising to hear this type of humour from your grandmother.  However, she attends church regularly, and is proud to be a part of important groups such as Pathways, which is committed to supporting persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities.  She is also celebrating later this month a rare achievement, 60 years of marriage to my grandpa.

When she was a young girl, people cooked everything they ate.  It was not like you could pick up ready prepared food everywhere you went.  If you could find free food on the land, you would be silly not to use it.  I think that her stories of life in the old days made me curious about what the land has to offer and by extension, piqued my interest in the good stuff we glean from plants, i.e. herbalism.

About ten years ago I was making some jam from high-bush cranberries.  This was all new to me.  If you have not tried it, you should.  It is a sweet jam that smells like a robust cheese.  When I told her about my adventures with this strange fruit, she told me that they used to make this jam by the quart when she was a child.  When I  started studying herbalism, I wanted to tell everyone about the benefits of eating greens and drinking herbal teas.  When I told my grandma about the benefits of eating wild greens, she assured me that this is old news; they used to do that in the old days too.   She is a hardy woman, with good genes.  After reading cookbooks such as Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions and umpteen books on plants and beneficial plant constituents, I wonder, do her early days of living off the land have anything to do with her fortunate genetics?

One of the fascinating skills I love about my grandma is that she cooks without using recipes.  She has challenged me in the past by stating if she knows how to cook, why would she use a recipe?  In her mind, this is ridiculous.  This approach has perplexed me for years.  How does she do it?  How can she trust that something is going to turn out right if she has no recipe to guide her with proportions, temperatures and time required for cooking food sufficiently?  She claims it is simple, you know what cookie dough should look like by the texture, you know when a roast is perfect by the way it looks, smells, tastes.  This method of cooking without a recipe requires only two extremely adaptable and portable things, plenty of practice and the use of your senses.

One day I want to cook in the same fashion.  Why not?  A good dish is not so much about following the perfect recipe.  It is knowing what to do with what you have on hand and cooking these foods in a way that is pleasing to you and your guests.

A few days ago I made almost five quarts of green tomato salsa and two pints of green tomato ketchup.  Bursting with achievement, I posted this on Facebook.  Shortly after, I received a request from a friend for the recipes.   But I did not have any real “recipe”!  At the time, I was too busy to actually send out my instructions on what I did.  And besides, the salsa and ketchup were my very own limited edition creations. There was no kitchen lab to develop a tested recipe.

While watching Glee last week, I realized that I do something like a song mash-up when I approach cooking.  Instead, I do a recipe mash-up.  Until I get to that point where I can cook without any recipes at all, I am consulting many cookbooks to better understand cooking and food.  With my university training, I approach recipes as I would a research project.  Then, I do a bit of a recipe mash-up.  Generally, I look at three recipes to get an idea of what three different people would do with the same dish.  Then, I create my own recipe, keeping in mind what I would want and what I have on hand.   Some people would consider it pure chaos.  I would rather think of it as a wee bit of spice to my life.

Will this method work for you?  Try it!  If you are unsure at first, you can consult one of the many tomes on cooking like How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, The Way to Cook by Julia Child, Kitchen by Nigella Lawson, or heck, even Martha Stewart’s Cooking School and practice getting down the basics.  After that, give it a try.  Who knows, maybe one day you will have your own book of recipes developed from your very own recipe mash-ups.  Not only that, but one day, you may even have that freedom to cook whatever you want, with whatever you have and make it great.

by Tammy Schmidt

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