Archive: June 2006

Popsicle Party

This week, I have been experimenting with a new kitchen toy that I am confident will keep on giving throughout the summer. While in New York last weekend, I picked up some popsicle molds (made by Cuisipro, $15), taking me back to the 1970s and my days of slurping on red-white-and-white ice domes at the local pool. Wouldn't it be fun, I thought, to do more of a Froz-Fruit thing and actually make this things somewhat nutritious? Homemade mango-lime and cherry-blueberry popsicles. (Kim O'Donnel) The process is as simple as pureeing your favorite fruit and zipping it up with honey, lime, ginger, whatever you fancy. I made two versions -- mango/lime/cayenne and cherry-blueberry -- because that's what I had on hand. Details to come, plus picture, Girl Scout's honor. However, this afternoon at 2:20, I'll be sharing my inaugural popsicles with my on-air pal Sam Litzinger (1500 AM, 107.7 FM,...

By Kim ODonnel | June 30, 2006; 1:19 PM ET | Comments (5)

The United States of 'Cue

Of all the weekends to celebrate being a 'Murrican, this is the one. If you want to celebrate this country's 230 years of independence by waving a flag, go right ahead. But all you really need to do to pledge your allegiance is to fire up the grill. As I confessed earlier this week, I'm from up North, which means our Fourth of July "cookouts" were a hamburger-and-hot dog affair cooked on the "barbecue." Thirty-five years later, I've learned that we Yanks have been terribly confused. What we had been doing all this time is grilling - cooking over direct heat for a relatively short period of time - NOT barbecue-ing. This clarification is old hat to southern folks, who grew up understanding that "barbecue" is a noun and nothing else. So, if "barbecue" is a noun, then what is it, exactly? In contrast to the high, direct heat used...

By Kim ODonnel | June 30, 2006; 11:57 AM ET | Comments (6)

Michael Pollan vs. Whole Foods?

It was a busy spring for journalist Michael Pollan and the summer is proving to be even more so. Since the publication of his controversial book on the state of American agriculture and food systems, "The Ominivore's Dilemma,", Pollan has been interviewed in countless publications, (including The Washington Post Food section and in a live chat on washingtonpost.com. In May, Pollan began writing dispatches in blog format as a guest columnist for the New York Times Select Web site. His first post, dated May 7, challenged the business practices of Whole Foods Market, the subject of an entire chapter in his book. In a bold move, the corporate world bit back, but this time in the form of an "open letter" available for public consumption. In his blog on the Whole Foods Web site, CEO John Mackey responds to Pollan's challenges on May 25, asserting that Pollan paints an inaccurate...

By Kim ODonnel | June 29, 2006; 12:04 PM ET | Comments (3)

Say Hello to Frozen Yogurt

In his effort to spread the good word about DIY ice cream makers, my ice cream guru, Bill Addison, has generously offered up another of his frozen treat recipes from his treasure trove. This week's bonanza is frozen yogurt, a lower-fat alternative to the extraordinarily rich vanilla-bourbon ice cream I swooned over earlier this month. I'm all for indulging, but a quick look at the USDA National Nutrient Database helped me over the ledge when I learned that 1 cup of whole-milk yogurt (that's used in the recipe below) contains 7.96 grams of fat. By comparison, there are 88 grams of fat in 1 cup of heavy cream, which is just a fraction of the amount called for in the aforementioned ice cream recipe. Someone call the cholesterol police, pronto! So for a change of (heart) pace, consider making your very own frozen yogurt. In this recipe, Addison showcases peaches,...

By Kim ODonnel | June 29, 2006; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (5)

Let's Eat Out (side)

After several days of pounding rain, Washington is getting a break with true-blue skies and sun. (I guess that means I'm off the hook from making mud pies.) As soon as those porch chairs finish draining, I think it's time to venture out into the dry outdoors. Although the ground may be a muddy mess for the next few days, a picnic is an effective way to embrace the weather change. But, as my colleage and shopping diva extraordinaire Janet Bennett points out, "Unless you're really sophisticated and have an old Persian carpet lying around, you're going to need something to keep your fanny dry." She recommends a look around at the oilcloth tablecloths made by designer Cath Kidston. Locally, Go Mama Go sells oilcloth by the yard for $10, so you can cut what you think you'll need. If you've got a crowd coming this weekend, have a look...

By Kim ODonnel | June 28, 2006; 1:55 PM ET | Comments (0)

BBQ: What's the Secret to Your Sauce?

I am a Yankee girl. My family is from up North, too. When Fourth of July would come 'round, we'd eat burgers and dogs, corn on the cob and potato salad. And if we were good, we'd have "Wooder ice" for dessert. The word for such a feast was a "cook out, " which was also used as a verb, as in "We're going to cook out tonight." The word "barbecue" was not part of the vernacular, with one exception - when my Dad was feeling adventurous and bought a bottle of Kraft barbecue sauce to brush on chicken breasts. I'm not complaining, really. But coming from up North, we got the short end of the stick when it came to matters of the grill. In this case, I suppose ignorance is bliss as I had no idea what I was missing. Wasn't chicken on the grill supposed to charred...

By Kim ODonnel | June 28, 2006; 12:28 PM ET | Comments (18)

How I Ate the Big Apple

While Washingtonians were wading through muddy water these past few days, I ate my way through New York. It was undoubtedly a soggy weekend there, but the rainfall didn't even come close to what was coming out of the sky over the Beltway. Wow, more than seven inches of rain in 24 hours! If it makes you feel any better, I got soaked yesterday morning on my way to Bryant Park for some free Wi-Fi at the New York Public Library, but my umbrella-less self was turned away because Warren Buffet was announcing his decision to sign over some of his billions to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Sigh. But let's skip the weather and get to the good part. My favorite thing about eating in New York is not so much the abundance of celebrity chef-studded restaurants but the constant flow of new eateries, new ideas, new ways...

By Kim ODonnel | June 27, 2006; 1:23 PM ET | Comments (3)

Only in New York

While not eating in New York this weekend (stay tuned for a dining report later today), I went window shopping, one of the best ways to walk off calories in the mecca of design and fashion. Setting off for a long, post-prandial stroll down Fifth Avenue, I had no intention of buying anything, let alone shoes, one of my top retail weaknesses (I'm also a sucker for books), but there it was, the 57th Street location of Arche. It's one of my all-time favorite pit stops for Frenchy shoes that I rarely can afford. The newly launched sale strengthened the temptation, and lo and behold, I walked out two pairs heavier. The mini-version of the "Art and Cook." cookbook. (Kim O'Donnel) Another favorite haunt (also on West 57th) is Rizzoli, the most stately and grand of any book store I've ever laid eyes on. Is it the store's mansion feel,...

By Kim ODonnel | June 27, 2006; 10:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Blogging Diet

Even a blogger needs to forage for her food. A blog cannot live on one blogger's keystrokes alone. Let's face it; the blogosphere is one enormous communal table, at which bloggers break bread and mooch off each other's plates. To wit, the Web site of Food and Wine magazine features a weekly "Blog Watch," a list of links to five food blogs considered peruse-worthy. Here's a sampler (in no particular order) from my weekly virtual diet, each blog offering unique gastro-literary nutrients and sustenance. Although updated only once, maybe twice a week, Saute Wednesday is an important part of my diet, as it provides a tasty stew of food news, original essays by blogger Bruce Cole and stuff that people are debating in the food world. I feel imbalanced if I don't check it regularly. It's based in San Francisco but has a strong national flavor. The Food Section gets...

By Kim ODonnel | June 26, 2006; 8:55 AM ET | Comments (5)

Scared of Tofu? Grill It

There's something about bean curd that scares the bejeezus out of meat eaters. Even the most open-minded carnivores run for the hills at the sound of the word "tofu, " and to their defense, the squishy white stuff does require a bit of kitchen schooling as well as flavor-doctoring before becoming palatable. But scaredy-cats, I gotta tell you: Summer is the time to get over your tofu terror because the white stuff luvs the grill. A kicky marinade and a handful of skewers is all you need to bring tofu to life. Last weekend, I tried out the recipe below with delicious results. The hoisin sauce is key here, as it contains sugar that caramelizes on the edges like a good barbecue sauce does on pork or chicken. With the direct heat of the grill, the tofu cubes trade in their squishiness for a chewy (and dare I say it)...

By Kim ODonnel | June 23, 2006; 2:00 PM ET | Comments (5)

Using Your Senses

Ah, the weekend. At last, some time to catch up with ourselves, break out of autopilot work mode and use our physical senses (remember those?) to appreciate what's around us. SIP Hightail it to Ashburn, Va., this weekend for the ninth annual Old Dominion Beer Festival, where more than 100 beers from 50-plus mid-Atlantic breweries will be on tap. May I suggest a leisurely pace with those suds, perhaps with an intermittent snack and plenty of water to keep things hydrated? If the answer is no to beer, what about wine instead? From store tastings to vineyard tours, here's how to get your grape groove on in Washington. LOOK One of the new arrivals at local farmer's markets this week is summer squash -- yellow, zucchini and pattypan. If you don't know what I'm talking about, look for a vegetable that resembles a miniature space ship, sort of round, with...

By Kim ODonnel | June 23, 2006; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (2)

Real Faux Ice Cream

After last week's ode to full-on fat ice cream, I heard from several readers who expressed interest in lower-cal, even dairy-free options that would make slurping possible for all of us. In the days since, I have discovered, that in the world of frozen treats, there seems to be something for everyone. Please note that although I'm sharing how-to details below, I have not yet tested the strength of these recipes (a project before next week's frozen feature). If you get to the homework assignment before I do, please share your experiences in the comments area below!...

By Kim ODonnel | June 22, 2006; 11:34 AM ET | Comments (9)

Washington Gets Good Cheese

As reported in today's Food section story by Walter Nicholls, there are some major cheesy developments happening in Washington, namely last week's opening of uber-fromagerie Cowgirl Creamery. I poked my head into the shop yesterday afternoon and the first thought that came to mind was, "It's about time! Washington is finally catching up with other food-centric cities that boast small shops selling artisan foods." For old times' sake, I selected two favorites, Humboldt Fog, an ash-veined, goaty treat and Cowgirl's signature triple cow-cream Mt. Tam. Then I asked for a surprise, something very different from the other two, which the woman behind the counter dutifully obliged with a hunk of San Andreas, a drier-textured, mild beauty made from raw sheep's milk. If the selection is overwhelming and makes you feel faint, ask for help. Based on my visit, the staff is eager to educate on what's what and give you...

By Kim ODonnel | June 21, 2006; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (5)

Name That Fruit

This is Guy Smiley, with another episode of "Name That Fruit, " the only quiz show in the history of the world to tackle the mysteries of the supermarket produce aisle. Our first contestant is Rayburn Wycliffe, who's known in his home town of Bentonville, Ark., for his way with pineapple upside-down cake. (Buttermilk is the secret, so I'm told.) The first question is a real stumper, but here goes: Name a fruit native to Mexico Central America that looks like a cross between a pinecone and a corn cob but tastes like a cross between a banana and pineapple? And here's a helpful hint: It's got a SCARY name. Thirty seconds to answer, Rayburn, and you will be the owner of a BRAND NEW Viking range! The weird fruit that is the Monstera. (Kim O'Donnel) (Rayburn Wycliffe knits his eyebrows as he scours the depths of his memory bank,...

By Kim ODonnel | June 21, 2006; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

Care for a Rum Cocktail?

This week marks the 10th anniversary of washingtonpost.com, which means it's probably time for a cocktail. If you're not as excited about this milestone as we are at the Web site, perhaps you can toast to the official beginning of summer (the solstice takes place at 8:26 a.m. tomorrow). But the real question is: Do we really need an excuse for a summery quencher? (Today's post is laced with alcohol, by the way. For drinks without the hard stuff, take a look at these non-alcoholic ideas. ) For me, summer cocktailing means rum. Gin and tonics are about as old hat as my 20-year-old pair of blue seersucker Bermuda shorts, but that doesn't mean I harbor ill toward the isle of Bermuda. In fact, one of my ultra-favorite sippy-poos (a term coined by my Aunt Ginny) is a Dark'n' Stormy, considered the national drink of Bermuda. Made famous by Goslings...

By Kim ODonnel | June 20, 2006; 10:40 AM ET | Comments (10)

Meet Me at the World Bank Cafe

While doing errands on Saturday afternoon, I noticed something different about the northwestern corner of 21st Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. From across the street, I could make out the words "Pangea Market" on an orange awning, but assuming it was just another quick-stop deli kind of place, I didn't plan to walk in. A quick peek in the window proved me wrong; whatever this Pangea Market was, it was far from ordinary. Part boutique, part café and part global education center, the market, formally Pangea Artisan Market & Cafe, is a collaboration between the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) and World Craft & Café Inc., a fledgling Springfield, Va., company owned by two Nepalese immigrants. Open since May, Pangea is showcasing products from 40-plus artisans in 30 countries around the world, says store owner Sunil Shrestha, who oversees retail operations with his brother, Deepak. In addition to home...

By Kim ODonnel | June 20, 2006; 9:34 AM ET | Comments (1)

Dinner Tonight: Vietnamese-Style Lettuce Rolls

It was an A/C -swimming pool kind of weekend, with temperatures in the 90s. I found myself looking for weather-inspired fare -- something light that would help take the edge off. So I took a cue from the Vietnamese, who have mastered the art of delicious, fresh-tasting cooking that also cools the body under extreme weather conditions. A leaf of Bibb lettuce gets filled with lemongrassed ground turkey, rice vinegar-soaked veggies and a kicky dressing. (Kim O'Donnel) I have long wanted to make goi cuon, the classic summer rolls of softened rice paper (featured in the blog soon, I promise!), but with a beautiful head of bibb lettuce begging to be used, I decided to make lettuce roll-ups instead. For the filling, I used ground turkey (instead of the traditional yet heavier beef or pork), seasoned with lemongrass and the salty pungency of Vietnamese fish sauce. Thinly sliced onions and...

By Kim ODonnel | June 19, 2006; 10:47 AM ET | Comments (4)

Berry Marvelous

Warmer temperatures mean warm-weather crops -- and major produce scores at local farm markets. Making a debut appearance at Arlington Courthouse market this Saturday (8 a.m. - noon) were members of the squash family -- yellow, zucchini and the adorable pattypan -- and dare I say it, an inaugural bunch of peaches. The cast included cucumbers, onions of all colors, sweet (and sour) cherries, herbs galore and early-bird garlic bulbs. Blackberries and raspberries from Westmoreland Berry Fam in Oak Grove, Va. (Kim O'Donnel) But the main attraction, at least based on the long, movie theater-esque lines, were the berries! The stand at Westmoreland Berry Farm, of Oak Grove, Va., was bursting with color, showcasing six, yes six, different kinds of berries. There they were -- blueberries, blackberries, red and black raspberries, strawberries and tayberries (a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry) in all their glory, and it looked like...

By Kim ODonnel | June 19, 2006; 9:22 AM ET | Comments (4)

Take This Stick and Grill It

Sometimes, at the end of a long week, we just don't want to think, even at the slower pace that a weekend allows. I feel some of that brain sludge setting in myself, as I compose my weekend grocery list. What would be easy-breezy yet delicious? (Even those of us who cook and write about food for a living get weary.) The answer: Get on the stick. Literally. Pull out those skewers (wooden or metal, it doesn't matter) and thread 'em up with whatever you fancy: veggies, pineapple, chunks of tofu or fish, boneless chicken thighs, ground beef (for kubideh kebabs). The choices are endless! A marinade need not be complicated; sometimes all those veggies need is a good brush of olive oil and a healthy sprinkle of salt and pepper. Tofu likes to bathe in flavors overnight, even if it's simple soy sauce, ginger and sesame oil. Fish loves...

By Kim ODonnel | June 16, 2006; 11:38 AM ET | Comments (8)

Whole Foods Nixes Live Lobsters

Last month, The Post's Walter Nicholls reported that Whole Foods Market had decided to stop selling live soft-shell crabs after complaints of animal cruelty. Yesterday, the Austin-based company went one step further on the animal rights front, announcing its decision to ban sales of live lobsters in its 183 stores in North America and the UK. There are 13 Whole Foods stores in the Washington metropolitan area. Yesterday's World Cup match between England and Trinidad and Tobago apparently made Scotland hungry for mangoes (and rum drinks, of course). The recent outpouring of love for the tropical fruit is rooted in Scottish animosity for the English team. What do you think they'll chow on when England plays Sweden next week -- smorgasbord with shots of aquavit? Stay tuned. Will Travel for Food As you make plans for summer vacations, consider including a food festival as part of your itinerary. A hallmark...

By Kim ODonnel | June 16, 2006; 9:37 AM ET | Comments (4)

Icy Adventures, Part 2

As promised earlier this week, here's the next chapter of the ice cream chronicles, Kim O'Donnel style. I put on my boots, packed my compass and set out to acquire my very first ice cream maker. The concrete jungle is dangerous, so I put on a helmet, too (Actually, I was traveling on bike. Yes, I went to buy an ice cream maker on my bike, under the delusion that my would-be purchase would actually fit into one of my panier bags.) I arrived at my destination, the big white shipyard that is Crate & Barrel (Although Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sur La Table and Linens 'n Things are equally good possibilities) and parked my rig. I swaggered inside, eyed my target - the Cuisinart ICE-20 - and decided she was mine. I felt a rush of excitement, imagining the possibilities. (Is this how the explorers felt when they discovered...

By Kim ODonnel | June 15, 2006; 9:28 AM ET | Comments (0)

Movie Star Rat is a Gourmand

If you weren't too involved with your popcorn, those of you who caught "Cars" on screen this week may have noticed during previews a culinary tease to yet another Pixar main course, due out next summer. The dish in question is "Ratatouille," the story of a rat in Paris with an epicurean appetite. The trailer is hilarious and has me hungry for more, s'il vous plait. On tap to direct is Brad Bird ("The Incredibles"); as for cast, word is that Brad Garrett ("Everybody Loves Raymond") will be the voice of the chef and that the gourmet rat in question will be the voice of Patton Oswalt ("King of Queens"). The film appears to have nothing to do with ratatouille, by the way, a stewy Provencal dish making use of summer goodies such as eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic and herbs....

By Kim ODonnel | June 14, 2006; 11:59 AM ET | Comments (0)

Ice, Hold the Dairy

In the heat of my blathering about ice cream yesterday, I had a small meltdown (I know, another food pun), realizing that I've left a bunch of folks out in the cold -those who are lactose intolerant or vegan. Ice is nice, but what if you can't do the dairy or eggs? I could take you on a trip to a little neighborhood in Philadelphia called Manayunk (pronounced MANNY-YUNK), where ice cream is for sissies and tough guys slurp on "wooder ice" (that's Philadelphia-speak for "water ice.") Now, if you're from Philly, don't get all in my craw about South Philly and Overbrook -I KNOW great wooder ice is all over town -- Manayunk, about five minutes from home, is where the O'Donnel's got their fix on the hottest summer nights. If a trip to Philly is out of the equation, you can make your very own wooder ice at...

By Kim ODonnel | June 14, 2006; 10:58 AM ET | Comments (0)

Drink-Ade

When the weather is like it is today in Washington, it feels like nothing can go wrong. We should all play hookie and pack a picnic basket with enough Rosé for the whole gang. The question, though: Can we afford to be snookered on a Tuesday afternoon? Oh, all right, I'll behave. Still, we need something cool to drink when that throat gets parched, at that imaginary picnic or out on the back porch after work. Did you get a look at the details for the rosemary lemonade that was featured in last week's Food section? I love the idea of infusing herbs into lemonade, and if you've got a run on rosemary in your garden like I do, this may be the ticket. You'll need to make a simple syrup, which is a cooked sugar-water solution that needs to cool before using; it's a good idea to make a...

By Kim ODonnel | June 13, 2006; 11:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Scoop on DIY Ice Cream Makers

For the past month, food critic Bill Addison has been sleeping on a borrowed blow-up mattress, but soon he will be reunited with his precious belongings, namely his "Simac Il Gelataio 800." Addison, who had made Atlanta, Ga., his home for several years, recently left his job as food critic at newsweekly Creative Loafing (full disclosure: he was my editor for two-plus years) to join the merry band of diners at the San Francisco Chronicle's Food section. As someone who eats in restaurants for a living, Addison's kitchen shelves are often lonely, but when he does cook, he goes into overdrive. I call him the "Kamikaze" cook, a term from "The Mindful Cook" by Isaac Cronin describing cooks who overextend and run around the kitchen more in keeping with television show, "The Amazing Race." A former pastry chef, Addison is known not just for his out-of-orbit desserts but for his...

By Kim ODonnel | June 13, 2006; 8:43 AM ET | Comments (0)

Dinner Tonight: Fish Tacos

I know, it's soggy out and doesn't feel much like mid-June, but let's warm up and pretend we're surfers instead. Dude, wherever you are, the sun is blazing and your hair is streaked with it. Those were some killer waves, and now I'm starved. Let's make some grub and polish our boards. Darn. Still soggy, I'm afraid. Well, if the power of imagination won't kick in with a summery movie backdrop, how about the power of the kitchen? There's nothing like a batch of ">fish tacos (Real Player video)) to whisk you away from gray skies (or the concrete jungle). Chunks of tilapia or mahi mahi filets get dipped into a beer batter and are quickly fried into golden nuggets that are worlds away from the fast-food version. But before you heat up that skillet, get your taco fixins together -some shredded green cabbage for color and crunch and a...

By Kim ODonnel | June 12, 2006; 11:45 AM ET | Comments (0)

Drinking Pink

As soon as the temperature climbs above 65 degrees, my internal wine-o-meter changes, too. Does that mean my sipping gravitates from red to white? Well, yes and no. For me, summer is all about the pinks and corals and wild salmon hues of the wine world, a time for sipping on Rosé. Not to be confused with pinky jugs of syrupy sweet white zinfandel, Rosé is an interesting mix of both grape worlds. Although made from red grapes and starts off being made like a red, it ferments like a white AND drinks like a white. Rose ready for back-porch sipping Here's how the Rosé process works: Red grapes get crushed, and just as with red wine, the juice and skins are kept together - but only temporarily - in order to extract pigments, resulting in those cool colors. The juice and skins are then separated, and the juice is...

By Kim ODonnel | June 12, 2006; 10:36 AM ET | Comments (0)

Feast Your Eyes on Bluey

If the looks of this blueberry buckle (pictured) is working you up into a lather, I've done my job correctly. I've been busy this morning whipping it up for my Washington Post Radio guinea pig Sam Litzinger, who eats everything I make him. Join us this afternoon at 2:10 (1500 AM, 107.7 FM, or streaming at www.washingtonpostradio.com) for the blue details. And since I'm confident you'll be hankering for the recipe, here's what you need to get berry busy. Blueberry buckle just made this morning....

By Kim ODonnel | June 9, 2006; 12:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

Party on the Plank

I have a new favorite way to eat wild salmon - but it's far from a new technique. Borrowing an ancient page from the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, I've embarked upon plank cookery, which means cooking supper on slabs of wood over fire. Grill-planked salmon The idea is that aromatic wood, such as cedar, alder, oak (or maybe even hickory), when soaked and placed over lowish, indirect heat, infuses your food with the flavors of the wood and resulting smoke. Think of it like aromatherapy for dinner. So being a plank virgin, I dutifully followed the rules: Use untreated wood suitable for cooking, soak it for at least an hour, slap the fish skin side down onto the plank, season with salt and pepper (and a few sprigs of thyme for kicks) cook over low, indirect heat and cover....

By Kim ODonnel | June 9, 2006; 9:59 AM ET | Comments (0)

All Cherries, No Pits

With the war in Iraq leading the headlines today, I offer a break from heavy news with an update from the food world: Local cherries are here! Cherries from the Clarendon farmer's market. Sweet they are (although I've been getting reports of sour variety too). Cherries are strutting their gorgeous selves at local farmer's markets (I found my batch at Clarendon farmer's market on Thursday). Aside from eating them one by one in a bowl, contemplating the meaning of life (Real Audio file), try them in a food processor-friendly clafoutis, a French dessert that's kind of a cross between a waffle and a pudding. When studded with cherries, it is luscious and screams summer. I also love the idea of roasting them in red wine as a dessert topping, a suggestion in "Fresh Food Fast" by Peter Berley. Here's how: In a small saucepan, bring to a boil: ¾ cup...

By Kim ODonnel | June 8, 2006; 12:42 PM ET | Comments (0)

Conscience-Raising Foodbookery

In yesterday's post on culinary reading, I mentioned two distinct trends in food titles this year -- culinary memoirs and an umbrella topic that includes buzz words such as organic, sustainable, ethics, ecology and politics. As a culture, we are starting to wake up to the harsh reality of environmental destruction and its far-reaching impacts on the food we put in the shopping cart and ultimately in our mouths, and we're seeing these revelations show up in droves on bookstore shelves. The list that follows is just a sample of the body of work focused on food politics, authored by experts in a variety of fields - journalism, cooking, conservation, science, agriculture and public health. It was Michael Pollan's " ">The Omnivore's Dilemma" that got me thinking in a profound way about the food chain, akin to how I felt a few years ago when I read "Fast Food Nation"...

By Kim ODonnel | June 8, 2006; 8:41 AM ET | Comments (0)

Julia Child: The Movie?

It's rare that I would have entertainment news to share, but because it's food related, I'm hoping fab Celebritology blog-mistress Liz Kelly won't mind. The late great cooking dame Julia Child will be the subject of a yet-to-be-named film, and the woman bringing her back to life is Joan Cusack. Most recently, Cusack appeared with the star-studded cast of "Friends With Money" (Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand); you may also remember her from "Runaway Bride" and "High Fidelity," or if you're old like me, "Saturday Night Live" skits from the late 1980s. Maybe Cusack should consult former SNL-er Dan Akyroyd (remember his bang-up Julia skits?) for some tips on the accent? Apparently, Cusack announced the news while on air with Martha Stewart late last month. Anyone who saw the episode, let us know in the comments area below. Here's the latest bite on "Fast Food Nation," the movie version...

By Kim ODonnel | June 7, 2006; 11:46 AM ET | Comments (0)

Books to Chew On

After a thorough scouring of book shelves and review lists, it seems that 2006 is the year for two genres among food-centric titles: culinary memoirs and organic/sustainable/food ethics and politics. In a typical year of recent memory, it's one or two (tops) foodie auto-bios that get released - "Garlic and Sapphires" by Gourmet magazine's Ruth Reichl was last year's big chow, for example. This year, it's a veritable literary smorgasbord, with at least eight new titles to sink your teeth into, from a motley mix of great writers, chefs and critics. Here's what's on the menu:...

By Kim ODonnel | June 7, 2006; 10:36 AM ET | Comments (0)

Is That Carrot You're Eating a Neighbor or World Traveler?

Tonight, when you sit down for dinner, consider the following challenge: Look at what's on your plate and ask yourself if you know the geographical origin of the primary ingredients that make up your meal. Forget the salt, pepper and olive oil for a moment. Where does that salad come from - or the chicken breast, the green beans? Any of it hail from neighboring towns or farms? Jot down your observations and let me know of your discoveries. I ask you the same question I am continuing to ask myself: Do I know where my food is coming from and how it was grown or raised? The issue of food origin as it relates to sustainability is a hot one, with fossil fuel topping the list of factors to consider. In the latest issue of Time Magazine (which is entirely devoted to food, by the way), reporter Margot Roosevelt...

By Kim ODonnel | June 6, 2006; 11:55 AM ET | Comments (0)

My Friend the Garlic Scape

While in Miami over the weekend, I received an e-mail from home base with the subject line: Scapes Are Here! Even at a distance of 900-plus miles from home, I was delighted by the news that one of my long-anticipated produce items had made its annual debut at the farmer's market. The "scape" in question is hardly a typo or a secret code word; it's shorthand for garlic scape, a part of the garlic plant that is a garlic lover's nirvana. Garlic scapes in all their glory. Here's the anatomy lesson: Garlic and its relatives in the allium family, (leeks, chives, onions) grows underground, where the bulb begins its journey, soft and onion-like. As the bulb gets harder (and more like the garlic we know), a shoot pokes its way through the ground. Chlorophyll- green like a scallion (maybe even greener), the shoot is long and thin and pliable enough...

By Kim ODonnel | June 6, 2006; 9:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

Suppers in South Beach

I didn't cook a lick this weekend, and I hope you don't mind. In fact, I'm filing this post from Miami Beach, where I've been embroiled in very important business -- mindless pampering. I don't mean to sound facetious, as I earnestly believe that mindless pampering on a regular basis is critical to mental well-being and good health. My longtime pal, Nancy, joined me to celebrate our turning 40 (My birthday is later this summer). A full-time mother of two, she rarely takes the time for self-nurturing, a topic of particular import over the course of the weekend. Money was flying out of our wallets, as Miami is an expensive vacation destination (and seemingly getting pricier every year I visit), and Nan started to worry. In 10 years of raising children, this was the first time she vacationed without the family, spending a few days on her own watch....

By Kim ODonnel | June 5, 2006; 8:34 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Mayo-Free World

If you're stuck in traffic at 2 o'clock this afternoon, turn on your radio, pretty please. I'll be feeding Sam Litzinger, my on-air pal on Washington Post Radio (107.7 FM, 1500 AM...or if you are computer-bound, www.washingtonpostradio.com). This week, I've got a few painless side dishes suitable for weekend cookouts and all things grilled. I won't divulge all the tasty secrets, but one of the items on the menu is mayo-free potato salad, a concept that deserves far-better treatment than its goopy, mayonnaise-y counterpart. What is up with the mayo in the potato salad, people?...

By Kim ODonnel | June 2, 2006; 10:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

Getting Fired Up for the Weekend

More than half of grilled America likes the same old stuff on those grates year after year, as Candy Sagon reported this week. It's all about dogs, burgers and steaks. My father, John O'Donnel, all decked out for grilling, circa 1968. I've got a proposition for you: Let's give some love to the jewels of the sea, which are simpler to prepare than you think. Here are three easy ways to approach seafood -- even at the last minute -- on the grill this weekend:...

By Kim ODonnel | June 2, 2006; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (0)

Party Plates With a Conscience

Ever think about how much waste we create over food and drink every time we organize a summer cookout, picnic or other outdoor gathering? I hate to be an environmental downer, but it's time we get hip to all the debris we leave behind after our fun-loving feasts. Two companies have taken on the challenge, offering a new take on disposable plates and cutlery that work in tandem with the environment rather landfills....

By Kim ODonnel | June 1, 2006; 11:45 AM ET | Comments (5)

Caviar Dreams

When cooks think of kitchen toys, usually it's a zippy new appliance or cool gadget that makes life easier. But what if that toy were an ingredient? Recently, I was introduced to flavored whitefish roe, a newfangled product in the gourmet world. Sushi eaters may know it as tobiko - the tiny red or orange eggs of flying fish, tucked inside a California roll or topping sashimi. Infused whitefish roe from Tsar Nicoulai. In this case, it's American whitefish caught from the cold waters of the Great Lakes, then infused with tongue popping flavors, wasabi and ginger among them. Tsar Nicoulai (TN), a San Francisco-based boutique operation better known for its dynamite American (and sustainably-aquafarmed to boot!) caviar offerings, has taken the lead on this cool new trend that's got me all fired up....

By Kim ODonnel | June 1, 2006; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

 

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