Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Great Food Shops in the Fairfax Area

On our long visit to our family in Fairfax, Virginia, we have enjoyed cooking and having family meals. It's a wonderful thing to stop being isolated! Going to a variety of small and large food shops in the area has been a great pleasure too -- before being vaccinated, we had all food delivered to us, so we were unable to enjoy the process of shopping and making choices. Fairfax County is much larger than the urban area where we live (Ann Arbor, MI), and has a diverse population, so it offers many more types of shops. Whether they are part of a large chain (like H-Mart) or a single small-scale business (like the Russian Gourmet), we were happy to have these much-missed experiences. 

Crumbl Cookies

Orders can be entered online or (if small) at the counter.

Baking is done behind a display window.

Our selections. These are REALLY big cookies! Crumbl Cookies. Vienna, VA. Website.

Pasties from the prize-winning Pure Pasty Co.

The Pure Pasty Co, Vienna, VA. Website.

The Pure Pasty Co writes: "We travel home to Cornwall every year for the World Pasty Championships.
We’ve won the Open Savoury category twice (2018+19)."

Several flavors made up our lunch Saturday: all delicious. What I liked: Moroccan Lamb
and Provençal Vegetable. They are sold frozen, to be baked just before eating.
I've tried the pasties in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. These are much more varied.

The Swiss Bakery

The Swiss Bakery (near the Beltway) has been a favorite with our family for years.
Several types of rolls, sandwiches, and pastries made there are just wonderful. Swiss Bakery Website.

The Russian Gourmet

A small shop crammed with fascinating imports.

Many types of vegetables in jars, as was typical in
20th century Russia.

We were particularly interested in trying the Borodinsky rye bread which is made at The Russian Gourmet in Fairfax -- WEBSITE. We enjoyed it, and also tried several other items imported from Latvia, Armenia, and elsewhere in the former SSRs.

Woody’s Ice Cream

A popular ice cream place in downtown Fairfax.

We ate our ice cream in the nearby park. Woody's WEBSITE.

A Visit to H-Mart

H-Mart is a well-known chain of huge Asian supermarkets with outlets in around 10 states. We had never shopped in one before this, however, as the nearest H-Mart to us is an hour from our house. Our purchases included a number of Asian vegetables and sauces for our various cooking projects -- and some to take back to Ann Arbor.

Blog post and all photos © 2021 mae sander.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Suggested by Jay Rayner

“Cookbook titles tend towards the functional. It’s the food of this, or the book of that. And then there’s the best cookbook title of all time: Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson, with Lindsey Bareham. The second half of that sentence is perfect, for all recipes are indeed a story. The ingredients are the beginning. The method is the middle. We all know the ending. The best of those stories promise a better life. And then there is roast chicken, one of those tales that people like me love being told time and again.” 

When I read Jay Rayner’s recent discussion of trying recipes from Simon Hopkinson’s book, “How we all fell for Simon Hopkinson's lovely tale of roast chicken” (published in the Guardian on Feb. 14 and quoted above), I had to take a look at it — fortunately, a Kindle version is very, very inexpensive! Although the book was published in 1994, this was the first time I heard of it: not surprising! The number of cookbooks in this world, even very good ones, is astronomical.

Although many critics are very enthusiastic, I find this book only fairly interesting. It’s an alphabetical list of foods, not very comprehensive, starting with anchovies, eventually talking about kidneys, liver, and lamb, and ending with veal. A little essay about each food, and sometimes a memory about the author's relationship with other well-known cooks, precedes a few recipes for each item. I’ve now read through the book, though I haven’t tried the recipes, which look good but maybe not too adventurous. Note that this reading is a distraction from my great English Breakfast project, to which I shall return!

As an example, here is what Hopkinson says about smoked haddock: “I look upon smoked haddock as being essentially British. There is something about its distinctive smoky, fishy odor when being cooked that is familiar and comforting. It’s fireside stuff, soft and buttery. Sunday evening food.” (p. 240) He gives three recipes for smoked haddock with potatoes, in an omelet, and in soup.

Another quote: “ I used to think that Italian cooking was just veal, pasta, and tomatoes. I thought spaghetti boring, veal a tasteless meat (usually pan-fried in soggy breadcrumbs), and all that was ever done to tomatoes was to turn them into insipid sauces.”  Then he tasted the peppers at a particular London restaurant and all was different. (p. 189) Honestly, I tried to find more exciting quotes, but I just couldn't.

For one more example, here’s what he says about Elizabeth David: “ Elizabeth David has inspired me, and countless others, more than any other cookery writer. She had a style of prose that is a joy to read and, at times, the description of a dish or a situation experienced is so evocative that it transports the reader from page to place.” (p. 103)

Jay Rayner
While I’m not very inspired by Hopkinson’s highly recommended cookbook (though maybe the recipes are better than they look), I have been enjoying Jay Rayner’s recent food articles in the Guardian. He usually reviews restaurants in London and the vicinity, but as they are all shut down, he’s been cooking from his favorite cookbooks. So far, besides Roast Chicken -- from which Rayner made the title dish, roast chicken with a HUGE quantity of butter, the selected authors include some of my favorites: Yotam Ottolenghi, Fuchsia Dunlop, and Claudia Roden. I highly recommend Jay Rayner’s recent articles! (link)

Review © 2021 mae sander.

Friday, January 29, 2021

How to find a bad restaurant

Right now, restaurants in London, Paris, and most big US cities are dark and dismal places, closed temporarily or unfortunately, often for good. Restaurant critics -- along with chefs, waiters, sommeliers, and so forth -- have had to find other work. The future might hold better luck for them and for us. Maybe we will be able to eat out again in the not-too-distant future, maybe even while traveling to England or France where I've definitely enjoyed many good meals. Meanwhile, I have books to read.

I decided to read the book Dishing it Out: In Search of the Restaurant Experience by Robert Appelbaum, published in 2011, because it had a chapter on Grimod De La Reynière, whom I've been trying to learn about. On the whole, Dishing it Out is dull, pretentious, and full of social science jargon, pedantic literary critics' jargon, superior-minded self-promotion,  and at the same time a strange sort of naivety. The chapter on Grimod wasn't great either. Nothing in the book is as clever as the title -- though several other books on are also called Dishing it Out! 

Briefly: not a good book. Appelbaum's focus is how a variety of authors, beginning with Grimod, have written about food. He judges the works of professional restaurant critics through the ages, and also writes about recent amateur internet-published restaurant criticism. He analyzes novels like Sartre's Nausea and Isak Dinesen's Babette's Feast; journalism like that of Michael Pollan; statements of foodies like Alice Waters, and others. He loves words like "civilization" and "culture." Sorry, his insights are not very interesting. 

While Appelbaum denies that he's a restaurant critic, he does describe several experiences that he and his wife had trying to find good restaurants in London, Paris, and other French cities. Mostly, he complains because the combined food, service, and atmosphere never live up to his expectations. This is a bit tedious.

He does accomplish something: his method of picking out restaurants could be a lesson on how to eat badly in London and Paris and probably lots of other places. Here are a few of his documented approaches to ensuring that he will be disappointed:

  • Go to a neighborhood in the chosen city where there might be good restaurants. Or maybe to a neighborhood that had good ones in the past and is now touristy, like Montmartre or the Left Bank in Paris. Wander around until you are becoming exhausted and your wife is complaining because her feet hurt. Finally choose a restaurant in desperation even though you don't think it will be great. It won't.
  • Go to a restaurant with a good reputation, or at least a pretty good one. Order the cheap tourist menu. Make your wife order it too. It will turn out to be poor quality. As you suffer with each bite, watch the other diners in the restaurant -- they are locals who ordered à la carte, and who are enjoying truly delicious and well-prepared-looking dishes.
  • Go to a restaurant that was famous at some time in the past. You might find out that it is now owned by a faceless corporation and it's no longer out-of-the ordinary. Just predictable. 
  • Go to a restaurant in an ethnic community (say, Chinese or other Asian), but order the dishes that are intended for timid non-ethnic customers.  This is probably a route to disappointment anywhere, even in small US cities.
  • Go to a very expensive and highly respected restaurant. You will have very high expectations but a lowish budget. Order your food carefully, but let the waiter manipulate you to order wine and extras that run up your tab to way past what you hoped to pay. You may have enjoyed the food, but you'll regret the experience.
  • Pick a restaurant that has been decorated to look like it has a distinctive historical identity, for example, one that's based on the famous bouchons of Lyons, France. In Lyons or maybe even in Paris itself, there are still restaurants that preserve this tradition -- Appelbaum, however, goes to a fake bouchon in a completely inappropriate area that has completely different traditional restaurants. Try this: you might be lucky with the food. You might not. 
  • Above all, don't follow the advice of guide books or mainstream restaurant critics because, as Appelbaum warns, they are inferior writers who deserve to be analyzed, not used as expert recommenders. Don't research reputations or current status of restaurants -- don't ask local friends where they eat -- don't do anything that would maybe get you a good meal that you could afford!
This snarky review is © 2021 by mae sander for maefood dot blogspot dot com.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Dorah Sitole (1953-2021)

Today, I learned for the first time of a very intriguing author: Dorah Sitole, known as South Africa's "first black food writer and a celebrated food personality." (source)

Dorah Sitole, 40 Years of Iconic Food.
This book is not yet released in the US.
Dorah Sitole was born in Soweto, South Africa, in 1953. She overcame many challenges of living in that oppressive and racist regime, and became an author. She wrote: "I travelled to 19 countries across our incredible continent, and to all the provinces within South Africa, in order to capture the essence of our indigenous food. The result was Cooking from Cape to Cairo, published by Tafelberg Publishers in 1999." (source)

In October, 2020, Dorah Sitole published a new book: 40 Years of Iconic Food. She felt that she had just entered "her encore years." Alas, on January 4, 2021, she tragically died of Covid.

Reading her obituaries and the reviews of the book which just appeared, I felt very sad that I had never heard of her or read her work; I have searched for available copies of her books, but have not found a good source so that I can obtain them. I will persist!

From one of the obituaries:

"In a foreword to her book [40 Years of Iconic Food], Sitole wrote that she’d also included the two decades that prepared her for the 'path I was to walk'. 'I truly believe my relationship with food was formed by my childhood experiences. And with my encore years, this story spans six-and-a-half decades!'

"It should not be glossed over that the racial divide was present in the food writing and publishing industry, and those of us who were exposed only to the white food writers were the poorer for it; also missed was the opportunity to unite us through shared culinary heritages. Heritage Day, for instance, had everything to do with food for Sitole, as she wrote: “Marked by a kaleidoscope of colours and flavours, Heritage Day is a day many South Africans proudly celebrate. Across the country, tables will groan with food for friends and families. The base ingredients are often the same: meat, starches and vegetables. But cuisine isn’t fixed: every individual brings their history and themselves to the kitchen." (source)

I'm hoping that her new book will be released in the US so that I can read it. Ordering it from South Africa is prohibitively expensive.  

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

"The Best American Food Writing 2020"

"The world has changed so much so fast since the pieces in this volume were written and published that I’m convinced the book will read like a time capsule." -- Silvia Killingsworth, Foreword to The Best American Food Writing 2020, published November 2020.

Reading this year's Best American Food Writing is indeed like looking at a time capsule. The book has a lot of great articles, though I was frustrated by the large number from the online magazines Eater and Serious Eats because I have already read them. Although it's a very good collection, it really does reinforce my sense that I am in some kind of terrible purgatory, alienated from the world that I have known most of my life.

The republished essay that most totally brought home my alienation was about grocery stores, and an effort (pre-pandemic, of course) to make them more attractive to shoppers. Many people have been switching to big-box stores like Walmart, to farmers' markets or boutique-type shops, to online shopping, or elsewhere, and store owners feel the pressure to do something. Author Joe Fassler wrote "The Man Who’s Going to Save Your Neighborhood Grocery Store" about Kevin Kelley, an architect who was redesigning the grocery-store concept for a few ambitious grocery owners. Fassler explained the challenges to the traditional grocery business -- for example how "Americans started cooking at home less and eating out more" (p. 86). Then he described how Kelley proposes to save their bacon. First, a summary of experiential shopping in a variety of venues:

"Kelley says, grocers can’t be satisfied with providing a place to complete a chore. They’ll need to direct an experience. Today’s successful retail brands establish what Kelley calls a 'brand realm,' or what screenwriters would call a story’s 'setting.' We don’t usually think consciously about them, but realms subtly shape our attitude toward shopping the same way the foggy, noirishly lit streets in a Batman movie tell us something about Gotham City. Cracker Barrel is set in a nostalgic rural house. Urban Outfitters is set on a graffitied urban street. Tommy Bahama takes place on a resort island. It’s a well-known industry secret that Costco stores are hugely expensive to construct— they’re designed to resemble fantasy versions of real-life warehouses, and the appearance of thrift doesn’t come cheap. Some realms are even more specific and fanciful: Anthropologie is an enchanted attic, complete with enticing cupboards and drawers. Trader Joe’s is a crew of carefree, hippie traders shipping bulk goods across the sea. A strong sense of place helps immerse us in a store, getting us emotionally invested and (perhaps) ready to suspend the critical faculties that prevent a shopping spree." (p. 92).

There were a number of descriptions of what shoppers experience in a variety of stores from big chain grocery stores to a smaller regional ones. I wondered if I could really remember what it's like to go shopping in person for groceries or anything else. Of course I remember it, but there's a dimming quality in the memory, sort of like remembering my trips to Paris or Hawaii, where I've been many times but not recently. Not the same as thinking about what I do at least once a week. Like the Cowboy Caviar and Corn Chile at Trader Joe's -- I've almost forgotten them.

Am I real? Frequent grocery shopping maybe contributed to my sense of being real. Yes, grocery stores may have to change, but before the predictions started to materialize, most of us found ourselves unable to shop anywhere, because of the pandemic. Fassler writes: 

"The world existed before supermarkets, and it won’t end if they vanish. And in the ongoing story of American food, the 20th-century grocery store is no great hero. A&P— the once titanic chain, now itself defunct— was a great mechanizer, undercutting the countless smaller, local businesses that used to populate the landscape. More generally, the supermarket made it easier for Americans to distance ourselves from what we eat, shrouding food production behind a veil and letting us convince ourselves that price and convenience matter above all else. We let ourselves be satisfied with the appearance of abundance— even if great stacks of unblemished fruit contribute to waste and spoilage, even if the array of brightly colored packages are all owned by the same handful of multinational corporations. But whatever springs up to replace grocery stores will have consequences, too, and the truth is that brick-and-mortar is not going away anytime soon— far from it." (p. 103).

Doesn't this seem odd and alien in our current situation with its abrupt changes to all shopping? 

Certainly the articles in Best American that describe various restaurants should also seem unreal and unrelatable. To me they don't seem all that disconnected from my current reality because famous food writers like the ones represented here write about restaurants that I would never patronize anyway (the only exception is a description of Sparky’s in Hatch N.M. a famous diner where I once ate a chili cheeseburger). My favorite writers in this collection deal with the concept of “authenticity,” and what it really means, which I might write another post about. Articles about appropriation of ethnic foods by profit-seeking and better-funded mainstream entrepreneurs are interesting as well, and I wish I could go to a nice Mexican restaurant somewhere in the Southwest, or to an Asian restaurant in Fairfax, VA. But it’s going weekly to grocery stores that I really miss. 

It's only been a few months since I read The Best Food Writing 2019, edited by Samin Nosrat, and I had much the same feelings about it. (Blogged here:  Best American Food Writing 2019)

The year 2020 really is like no other!

blog post © 2020 mae sander.

Friday, November 27, 2020

The Politics of the Potato

“What if the healthiest and most beneficial foods were also the tastiest? This is exactly what advocates of the potato claimed in the eighteenth century. Just as the framers of the new discipline of political economy believed that, ultimately, there was no conflict between allowing individuals to conduct their own economic affairs and the well-being of the larger economic whole, so potato-promoters maintained that the potatoes required to build a strong and prosperous state were the very thing that poor people would themselves choose to eat. All that was needed was an educational campaign and an increase in availability.” (Feeding the People, p. 80)

The potato in the late 18th century was viewed as a saving food that would nourish poor people who couldn't afford the cost of wheat bread. When Ireland adopted the potato and consequently experienced a population explosion, there was rejoicing at this effect. But then came the potato blight, the resulting famine, and the view that potato consumption was a disaster. Eventually, the perceived value of the potato went up again. In any case, the potato was highly politicized throughout its history in Europe.

In the early days after the discovery of the potato in the New World, potatoes were sort of a stealth vegetable in Europe. While many earlier historians reported that the potato was virtually unused there before the end of the 18th century, and that in fact people refused to eat it in many places, author Rebecca Earle, in a new book called Feeding the People: The Politics of the Potato, finds new information in sources such as town and church records, cookbooks, and tax rolls, rather than in standard historic writings.

Potatoes were cultivated long before receiving official recognition. They were peasant food, grown in household gardens in a number of parts of Europe from the early introduction of New World foodstuffs. Personal gardens were an important source of nutrition for peasants and lower class workers because they weren't taxed or tithed. The frequently stated claim that potatoes were only accepted as food long after other New World foods like chocolate doesn't hold up to Earle's scrutiny. I particularly liked her contradiction of the often-repeated belief that because potatoes appear similar to deformed human body parts, people in the 16th through 18th centuries thought they would cause leprosy. This is fanciful! Only one source, a speculative one at that, cites any evidence for this claim, and it doesn't seem to have any actual base in historic reality.

Potato cultivation, in short, started much earlier than previous writers believed. For example:

“Like title disputes and herbals, printed and manuscript cookery books indicate that new-world roots were being cultivated on a small scale for domestic use in parts of Germany, England and elsewhere. As one 1651 cookbook from the Saxon city of Braunschweig noted, ‘earth-artichokes or roots … have become so common that practically every farmer grows them in his garden.' By the early eighteenth century, German cookery books often distinguished explicitly between different new-world tubers, and made clear that in some regions the ordinary potato was ‘quite common.’ As the century progressed, potato recipes could be found in ever-more published and manuscript recipe collections from many different parts of Europe.” (p. 36)

“Even in areas where potato cultivation began later, in the eighteenth century, villagers and peasants were often the first to raise the crop. This was for instance the case in Galicia, in southern Poland, where potatoes were grown in peasant gardens before they were introduced into the kitchens of landed estates.” (p. 44)

Illustration of an Itinerant Potato Seller,
18th century England, p. 39
Theories about potato consumption appeared quite a bit after the actual consumption of this vegetable. Some writers predicted that potatoes would not only provide good nutrition, but also inspire happiness in those who ate them. Happiness turns out to have been a very important topic in 18th century political thought. How can the population be made happier and more productive? Or to be more exact, how can peasants' happiness be manipulated to make the populace more productive for the benefit of the rulers? “Potatoes, happiness and the business of statecraft were bound together in the language of political economy.” (p. 103)

Earle cites numerous famous writers who proposed that eating potatoes would vastly improve the condition of the poor, and thus make them better -- and happier -- citizens or subjects. For example:

“Count Rumford reminded readers that since schemes to encourage potato consumption aimed ultimately to improve the well-being of the working poor, they were by definition of interest to ‘enlightened statesmen.’” (p. 73)

“William Buchan, the Scottish physician and advocate of potato gardens, encapsulated the happy situation resulting from greater potato consumption: ‘men would multiply, and poverty, unless among the profligate, be unknown.’” (p. 81)

Count Rumford (1753-1814), among his many accomplishments, was an advocate of soup kitchens to feed the poor, and he invented several variants of a now-famous recipe for nourishing soup. Variations of this soup were served to needy people, with flavors designed to please the different ethnic groups in Italy, Spain, and England. 

As with earlier eras, Earle's discussion of the 19th and 20th centuries details many facts about the uses of the potato and attitudes towards its production and consumption. Throughout the book, the topics of potato cultivation and culinary uses illustrate how food played a central role in politics, political theory, and political discussions. Very interesting! In the past, I have read a number of books on the history of the potato, most notably that by Redcliffe Salaman, The History and Social Influence of the Potato, and The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World by Larry Zuckerman. It’s impressive how different Earle’s approach to this food history is from the others. All in all,  Feeding the People: The Politics of the Potato is a great book, well worth reading. It even includes recipes!

Review © 2020 mae sander.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

"Perilous Bounty" by Tom Philpott

Perilous Bounty, published August, 2020
The problems of agriculture in American society have been made worse by the pandemic and by policies of the current (outgoing!) administration in Washington. Agricultural and food industry labor, notably that of slaughterhouse workers, has been put at risk of infection by conditions in the places they work. Trade wars have jeopardized markets for international sale of grain and meat products. Meanwhile, existing problems with water and soil resources and climate change are becoming more and more critical.

The book Perilous Bounty by Tom Philpott surveys the pre-coronavirus problems, with a concentration on produce growers in California and meat producers and grain farmers in Iowa. The author predicts a number of possible disasters -- but I think the predictions don't even fully take account of accelerating climate change, and of course not knowing what the pandemic would bring. He paints a very depressing picture!

Rather than write a detailed review of the book, I offer you a few quotations that meant the most to me, reinforcing the way I think about the challenges of being a decent human being and also a buyer and consumer of food.

About farm and food-processing labor:

"There’s also the crucial question of what industrial agriculture does to the workers it relies on and to the people who live within its proximity. Toxic water, fouled air, low wages, horrible working conditions, the withering away of public services— these facts of life in our industrial agriculture zones are signals of a food system gone rancid. With a few exceptions, like the annual agrichemical-fed algae bloom that blots out life in the Gulf of Mexico, their harms tend to fall most heavily on the people who live nearby, allowing most Americans the privilege of enjoying burgers and salad without thinking about, say, entire towns that are forced to buy bottled water to avoid being poisoned." (pp. 8-9). 

"Once a largely unionized middle-class profession, slaughterhouse work has emerged as low-paid and startlingly dangerous work. Drawing an average hourly wage of $ 13.38, meatpacking workers incur injury and illness at 2.5 times the national average. The prevalence of repetitive-motion conditions among laborers is nearly seven times that of other private industries. Much has to do with the speed at which they work: hog carcasses weighing as much as 270 pounds come at workers at an average rate of 977 per hour, or about 16 per minute. It’s no wonder that refugees fleeing political violence have emerged as an important labor source for the industry." (p. 94). 

About the growth of farm-to-table sales: 

"Despite the farmers market revolution of the past quarter century, the larger food system still exists to transfer cheap meat and corn and soybean derivatives from the Midwest, supplemented with mass-produced vegetables shipped in from California and other countries, into our bodies." (p. 179)

"For those who do dare to look, the response is often to opt out— to 'eat local,' to shop at the farmers market. While that choice is perfectly rational, and has led to an impressive boom in local and regional food sales since the mid-1990s, it has done little to slow the intensification or ecological degradation of industrial agriculture." (p. 7)

Since the author's research was completed around a year ago, many things have become worse, such as continuing drought and fires in California. Severe weather events in the midwest last summer also created havoc for farmers, especially the Iowa derecho, that is, the severe and enormous windstorm, in August, 2020. Coincidently it occurred the same week as the publication of the book. See "Iowa derecho in August was most costly thunderstorm disaster in U.S. history: NOAA estimates damage at $7.5 billion, higher than many hurricanes." in the Washington Post, October 17, 2020.

In reading Perilous Bounty, I learned a great deal about the risks to the whole agricultural endeavor that feeds us. Who knew that a giant flood was a possibility in drought-plagued California? Such floods happen around every 200 years; and the last one was in the 1850s. They are a consequence of some freaky trans-pacific oceanic build up of moisture, and damage from one would be worse than an earthquake! Who knew that the soil in Iowa was deteriorating so fast that heroic measures with fertilizer and other chemicals can hardly keep up? I thought I knew a lot about Monsanto and their hideous deceptions about pesticides, fertilizers, modified crops, and other risks to human life, but Philpott presented many new twists to the ugly story. It's a painful book to read, despite the interesting description of a few farmers who are experimenting with better ways to preserve their way of life.

Follow up: see the next post for more quotes from Perilous Bounty

Review by mae sander © 2020.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

What We’ve Been Eating

Pancakes with white wine.

Our recent meals have been highly enjoyable, mostly plant-based, and not very different from what we have eaten in the past. Examining my food photos, I realized that at breakfast time, I usually don’t feel like taking pictures. So I took this one of our morning coffee on the deck for maybe the last time this year:

Morning coffee.

Also outdoors: inviting friends for a distanced snack.
We will miss this when the weather changes.

Snack prepared for outdoors: Len's bread with herring and salmon.
We serve one plate to ourselves, a separate one to our guests.

Now for the lunches and dinners:

Eggplant from Jason & Katrina's garden.
It was grilled and made into babaganoush.

Pineapple upside-down cake. Recipe from the Joy of Cooking.

The cake with a cup of tea.

Blonde Brownies with cherries & chocolate chips.

Rye bread with pecans and golden raisins, served with fruit compote.

Red peppers and tomatoes stuffed with tuna salad.

Broccoli salad with blue cheese and yogurt dressing
and hard boiled eggs.

Garlic bread and cherry tomatoes.

Baked spaghetti garnished with the sautéed cherry tomatoes.
The spaghetti was made with simple tomato sauce, no meat.

Roast chicken with broccoli.

Anchovy and cheese pizza.

Delicata squash. (Leftovers became soup!)

On the grill: salmon and red bell pepper.
We hope for a few good evenings for grilling before cold weather is here!

Salmon and delicata squash for dinner.

Meanwhile, down the street, Kathy's bear enjoyed
a nice meal too. For the moment, the bear has gone
on vacation, but left a sign that he'll be back.

I've written several times about how we have stopped buying most meat, especially beef and pork. Our main reason for doing so is objection to the cruel working conditions in industrial slaughter houses and meat-processing plants. These have resulted in major coronavirus outbreaks -- current total: around 60,000 meat workers infected. Plant owners have consistently avoided taking effective measures to protect workers. We have reduced our consumption of chicken considerably as well, and we purchase fish compliant with environmental standards. Reducing meat consumption is also good for the health of the planet, and may result in healthier eating. I find it depressing that meat labels often state that the animals were humanely raised, but never mention humane treatment of meat-processing workers.

Blog post and all photos © 2020 mae sander for mae food dot blog spot dot com.


Thursday, July 16, 2020


Today, July 16, would be the start of the annual Ann Arbor Art Fair, which has taken place every year since 1965. This year, such an event is unthinkable. Right now, as in almost every past year, I would be an early bird, walking around as the booths open up and the artists begin their sales.

One of my favorite sites at the fair is the Carl Milles
fountain called "Sunday Morning," shown here during a past art fair.
During the most recent few art fairs, it's been the central site for food vendors.
This year on the University of Michigan campus: the fountain remains
inside of its winter plywood protective covering. Very few people are on campus.
I am especially sad that we can't even enjoy this extraordinary work of outdoor art!
Around the fountain each year, people eat at tables provided by the fair. This is a photo from last year.
The fountain in 2008.
Around the fountain: enjoying the Art Fair in 2016.
Art fair dining last year.
The one thing I won't miss: the actual food served by the mobile vendors who bring their trucks to the art fair.
I think they are the same vendors that set up at local carnivals all summer long.

Last year at the Art Fair. Another tradition missing in 2020: the annual t-shirt designed by a selected artist.
A favorite vendor: Marvin Blackmore in 2016.

Blog post and all photos © 2008-2020 by mae sander.