Tag Archive for 'food'

Hipster Domesticity in the WaPo

domesticity27So here is an article about hipster domesticity–the rise in canning and knitting and backyard chickenkeeping by young, city-dwelling ladies. It’s not that interesting an article or discussion (asking the question of whether this is empowerment or a rolling back of feminism isn’t a very sophisticated analysis), but it does have a great illustration by Julia Rothman who is one of my favourites.

One thing the article mentions is a bunch of new books, including the new Bust DIY Guide to Life, most of which I find pretty bothersome, in that they are all really entry-level. I don’t need multiple books that are about cooking and crafting and cleaning and fixing stuff; at this point in my “career” I want more substantial books on the parts that I’m actually interested in. The internet is full of lots of intro and beginner stuff, what’s really hard is figuring out how to learn and advance, such as how to go from following canning recipes to understanding the science enough to make your own recipes and can things safely. If the world keeps pumping out these overly generalist books trying to capitalize on a trend, it belies the fact that it is a trend, and that you’re not expected to take it seriously, it’s just for dabbling.

I was, however, pleased that the article mentions the competitive aspect of some of these domesticity project (especially the ones with beautiful blogs). The WaPo says:

You could say these women are simply homemakers searching for a purpose beyond driving carpool. As work-life balance scholar Joan Williams tells me, extreme domesticity can be a refuge for educated women who’ve left the workforce: “You’ve been trained your entire life in a high-pressure, high-achievement atmosphere, and you need somewhere to put that,” she says. “So you turn your household into an arena for dazzling performance.”

I would have taken that sentiment in a different direction though, because I think the over-perfect aspect of some of these blogs (eg. the DIY projects in something like DesignSponge) is gross and annoying. Those of us who love canning and cooking and sewing and knitting and gardening do it because we love it, not because it makes for a perfect blog post to show off on to the internet design and lifestyle hubs. Things are canned to be eaten, not to be beautifully labeled and photographed (though those things are fun); tomatoes are grown and eaten because they are delicious, not because I’m showing off just how committed I am to overthrowing the industrial agro-food system (that change doesn’t come from the garden, I promise you). What I think is needed in this realm is more discussion of failures, mistakes, misconstrued goals and oh-yeah-that-will-make-do solutions. Because that’s how it really works, at least in my kitchen and on my needles.

UPDATE: I want to mention a few sites that really speak to my sensibilities about all this. Food in Jars is my very favourite canning blog, Punk Domestics understands the rough-around-the-edges approach (and has great stuff), You Grow Girl takes on gardening in small and odd spaces and learns from mistakes, and the Smitten Kitchen does magical things in a tiny kitchen. Oh, and of course, my friend Kat has thrifty fun in threadbare times.

Spatial Perception

I often claim that my greatest skill is that I can always pick the right container for the stuff I need to contain. Marissa at Food in Jars admits that she’s not, and recommends taking your storage jars to the store. I, on the other hand, take immense pleasure in picking the right jar from my collection and having the beans/quinoa/nuts/buttons/leftovers fit just right. I guess I have the plastic bags left over, which Marissa doesn’t, but I don’t think that the coop could handle it if I brought jars.

Here are the results of a little photograph-as-I-go experiment that I conducted the other day with a bagful of split peas (bought to make this soup). What you’re seeing is in real time, folks!

split peas into a jar
split peas into a jar
split peas into a jar
split peas into a jar
split peas into a jar
split peas into a jar
split peas into a jar


Pickled Party

Here is a photograph of the pickled eggs in action at my birthday garden party. There’s Barbara on the left, with a pink pickled egg on her fork, and Sara on the right eating something else.
they were enjoyed

And here is a photograph of me and Ms. Naomi Adiv, at the same party.
dory and naomi


2 years in America, my phone contract is up for renewal, and I am coming to realize that I just don’t want an iPhone, or any other “cool” phone. Maybe I want a Razr, they were cool phones once. It’s nice to know that my friend Kenan doesn’t really want one either.

Instead of playing word jumble or brick breaking games on the subway, I’ll read John Steinbeck (the other day a woman tapped me as I was reading East of Eden and asked if I was reading that for school or for fun. When I said for fun she was impressed; I wonder would she would have thought if I had been reading The Production of Space?)

Not that I am anti-technology, mind you. I very much appreciate my sewing machine, which I used to make a banner for the Crow Hill Community Garden, and am using to piece together some blocks for a quilt (one for myself and my home, this time).

garden banner
9-patch blocks

Also, I like my new dehydrator, gifted by Emily in her going-away-paring down. Sara, my awesome new roommate, and I made kale chips, with kale she grew in her friend Stefan’s garden.

Pickled Watermelon Rinds

jars on the windowsill

Monday was watermelon-rind pickling day. Man–that’s a serious process. Even just peeling and cubing the rinds is tons of work (that was done slowly, as I ate up watermelon). Then soaking in brine. Then rinsing and boiling. Then boiling sugar and vinegar and fruit. Then adding the rinds back in. Then removing them and reducing the syrup. And then sterilizing and packing and processing. I went to bed much later than I should have; I hope these things are delicious in the end!

The recipe came from Vegan Soul Kitchen, which is not a canning book, but does have a whole section on no-waste watermelon. There are recipes in 2 other of my canning books, maybe I’ll try those too. Watermelons produce a lot of rind…

Fiddling Pickleheads

This coop haul included fiddleheads.

coop haul may 10

I took them up to Anna and Naf’s the other weekend, we ate them with eggs and they were delicious. Fiddleheads were totally destined to be the first canning project of the summer. So I bought more.

This, by the way, is the most recent Cat and Girl comic:

cat and girl arrivals lounge

Close up on the punchline as Grrl tells past Grrl about the future:

lots of people make their own pickles

Anyhow, after a bit of googling I decided on this recipe from Fat of The Land and learned that if your recipe doesn’t have photos I don’t really consider making it. Which is silly, but true.

pack jars
pack jars
boil vinegar mixture
hot water process
let 'em hang out

Now the jars are just hanging out…to be eaten in November or February!

Coop Haul

Inspired by Emily’s farmer’s market haul photos, (inspired, in turn, by Sweet Juniper), this is today’s Park Slope Food Coop haul

everything I bought

1 cucumber
bag of brussels sprouts
cream cheese
blue cheese
peccorino cheese
2 avocados
bag of baby carrots
2 packages of frozen ravioli
1 loaf amy’s bread
4 tomatoes
1 kiwi
4 limes
1 bunch kale
3 packages frozen peas
4 bottles of beer
2 leeks
6 eggs
bag of salad greens
bunch of mint
handful of basil
2 lemons
2 lightbulbs
current issue of the coop newspaper



woman with buttermilk

I have a new favourite: the Smitten Kitchen’s Broccoli Slaw. It’s a salad of broccoli and cranberries and almonds and red onions, with a dressing made out of buttermilk. As a devoted mayonnaise avoider I love the idea of slaw that is mayo-free. I’ve used the dressing on other things too, most recently quinoa salad (made while Zach was making chicken salad–we used all the same additional ingredients: celery, apples, pecans, cranberries, but diverged in our paths when it came to dressing. He opted for mayo and I balked and grabbed the buttermilk).

But buttermilk comes in one-litre containers and I don’t really need that much. So I’ve been making other things with buttermilk, including Lemon Poppyseed cake (taken from the Smitten Kitchen again, her lemon cake but with poppyseeds added–why would you ever make lemon cake WITHOUT poppyseeds?), and this morning, buttermilk pancakes from the joy of cooking.


So while we’re talking about food, I want to highlight just how fascinated I am with Fed Up With School Lunch, the blog of an elementary school teacher who is eating the school lunches everyday. It’s very simple, usually a photo and a short reaction, and the constant reassurance that this is not some big political statement from someone’s who’s been doing food and nutrition campaigning for a long time. It’s a simple project–the blog’s description is “Eating school lunch just like the kids every day in 2010″–and the author is very clear that she’s no expert in nutrition. The’s a naive aspect to this that makes the project have a lot of impact.


Also, on monday I’m taking a cooking class at the Brooklyn Kitchen Labs! It’s the chinese takeout class, taught by Cathy Erway who writes Not Eating Out in New York, and I’m very excited about it.

new york and food

All of my work these days, for my final papers and such, is about New York and Food. So I sit in piles of photocopied printed and stapled articles and reports and draft legislation about food and agriculture and farm-to-cafeteria initiatives and maps of food deserts and on and on.

It is wonderful. It makes me happy to read these things.

The American Journal of Public Health Research and the Journal of Planning Research and Education do not have pretty pictures though.

But this week there is new Maira Kalman in the New York Times! And it is about thanksgiving and food and bounty and cities. It is lovely, twee & smart at the same time.


The USDA has really wonderful old images on Flickr! Look how excited I am about the USDA! Here are two canning-related ones that I think are super.

canning lady

deposit seed co

I found these through the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food website, which is the most beautifully designed government thing on the web.

Also, I finally got around to buying a canning pot and tools–from Amazon of all places. (I still think it’s a bookstore, and I still I think I don’t shop there). Next year, I guess, unless y’all like pickled brussels sprouts.

the North Brooklyn Blogger’s Banquet

I sometimes think that it’s silly that I live in New York because I don’t really care about all the stuff that goes on. A really good day for me is about bike rides, coffee, and making and eating food with good people. It’s not even that I’m content to miss some world-famous DJ spinning in some club–I don’t even know that it’s happening and I’ve never heard of the dude.

It’s a good thing that I live here though, because there are lots of good people who want to make food and hang out and dance around the kitchen and debate the merits of zucchini versus summersquash while shelling peas and drinking bottles of Brooklyn Lager.

I appreciate it when these nights are informal and spontaneous, but a little while ago a group of very wonderful North Brooklyn friends and I started plotting and planning about something a little more structured. This group of friends includes photobloggers (Jake, Tanveer, and Joe), comicbloggers (Kenan), breadbloggers (Liz), food+bakingbloggers (Cate), and all-sorts-of-everything-bloggers (me and Emily)–so the logical conclusion was an over-blogged dinner party: The North Brooklyn Blogger’s Banqut (NB3)!

an annotated picture of salad

(photo courtesy of Tanveer Badal, annotations courtesy of me)

Inspired by Mark Bittman’s recent article about salads, I put together the watermelon-tomato-basil-goat feta salad pictured above. I picked up most of the ingredients on saturday at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket and the Park Slope Food Coop, and got the watermelon from Nam’s* on Sunday on my way up to Greenpoint (to Liz & Joe’s) for the event.

THEN: we shucked corn and shelled favabeans and snapped photos and danced around eachother in the kitchen and stirred and baked and put things in the oven and we used all the knives and bowls and cutting boards and we rearranged things in the fridge and took things out of the oven and we stirred and took more photos and peered in the the neighbours backyard and got caught in a rainstorm and drank rose and played with some puppies and made a mess and cleaned it up.

prepping in Liz and Joe's kitchen
Photo by Joe

And then we ate dinner.

And now we’re talking about doing it again before the end of the summer. The same principles will probably apply: no spectators. Well, no spectators at the event, only afterward. Read everyone’s takes on the evening!

watch out, tanveer!

*I don’t love Nam’s like the dude who writes I Love Franklin Avenue loves Nam’s–it’s too pricey and the produce isn’t particularly awesome or plentiful–but I’m glad that it’s there.

New House News

Kalin Reads the New House News

(That there is Kalin Reading the New House News)

So it happened! I moved into the new place–a wonderful apartment with a big kitchen, high ceilings, wood floors, a fire escape and windows that don’t overlook the highway, a reasonable amount of stairs from the ground–and a whole new neighbourhood (and it’s requisite neighbourhood blog).

Huge thanks to the fine friends who helped me pack, move, clean, disassemble and reassemble my furniture: Caitlin Dourmashkin, Adam Esrig, Avi Fox-Rosen, Emily Frye, Rachel Gurstein, Leah Koenig, Ben Murane, David H Rosen, Ari Shapiro, Abby Weiner, Joe Wielgosz, and Sarah Zarrow.

As a present to the new house, I bought a set of the New York Postcards from Yellow Owl – they haven’t arrived yet, but they’ve already got a spot on the wall by the door waiting for ‘em.

Thing is, less than a week after moving in, I took a tumble down the stairs and f’d up my left ankle something good, so I spent 5 days housebound&bedridden, imagining what walls get what things once I can freely move about the apartment (and the world).

I’m getting there, though! Yesterday I wandered the neighbourhood, hitting up the oh-so-cute Franklin Flea (5 vendors!) where I bought some pinapple pepper salsa from a very earnest young man, walked through the About Time kid’s skate day, and towards the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket (which is so huge and overwhelming compared to McCarren park, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it), and a picnic in Prospect Park.

When I got home I totally overcompensated for not being able to do projects the past week (other than knitting while watching Battlestar Galactica)–I set some pickles to ferment, made bread, and put some suntea out on the fire escape to brew.

I will stop typing now before I get all earnest and gushy about how lovely the world is when you’re allowed out of your house on a sunny day. Instead, here are some photographs of my trip to America for the 4th of July (from Vancouver to Bellingham/Anacortes, I know that I live in America but such voyages are still exciting).

gastrophonic stimulation

I’ve been telling all of you about this, but coming up soon–December 9th–is Gastrophonic Stimulation, an evening of music and food at the Bowery Poetry Club.
gastrophonic stimulation, music and food, holidays, december, winter, party
(click photo to embiggen)

I’m making latkes, so is Shira Kline, Leah Koenig and Avigail Hurvitz-Prinz are making Eggnog, Avi Fox-Rosen and a large assortment of wonderful individuals will be playing music. It will be an evening of serious sensory overload. It will be awesome.

Tuesday December 9th
10 pm
Bowery Poetry Club
(here’s the facebook link if you’re into such things)

I’m making a new apron for the event, using this pattern from the Purl Bee, and this Heather Ross fabric:
yellow, with octopi

Just so you can visualize what this is sort of going to look like, here’s a snap of me making waffles at Thanksgiving last night:
dory makes waffles

something I’ve been meaning to tell you

1. So after we made peanut butter, we made jam:
pyramid of jam
2. And then we all made bread;
3. And then we all made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
4. We made some cheese:

And Danny got all excited and wanted to make cheese all the time.

5. Jon crossed the road with a sign:

6. Graeme came to visit; he caught a chicken and brought it home:

7. Then Graeme and I went to the Museum of Glass in Corning NY:

8. I moved to New York! I live on the Fth floor:

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

I wrote a blurb about what we’ve been doing with the kids in the kitchen for the camp newsletter–that’s what this is. The peanut butter has been fabulous and each jar is slightly different. I have them lined up in a gradient from darkest to lightest. Our pyramid of jars of homemade jam is growing too. It’s funny to me that I’ve never made jam before, and now I make it every day. That’s the point though, this learning-by-doing and teaching-by doing.

Anyhow, here’s what the parents know.

Update from the Mitbach.
Dory Kornfeld. Rosh Mitbach 2008

Every kid at Na’aleh this session has made peanut butter. Each kvutzah has rotated through the mitbach (kitchen) and as a group shelled and roasted peanuts, salted them slightly, ground them in the food processor, and spooned it into a mason jar.

Most kids like peanut butter, but not very many of them had thought about what the sweet substance is really made of. While taking turns stirring and grinding, we compared the ingredients in the Price Chopper brand peanut butter (some dextrose, some fully hydrogenated soybean oil) with the ingredients in what what we were making (just plain peanuts). We discussed the various reasons that all these things would be added to peanut butter: for taste, consistency, shelf life, to make it cheaper, and came to the collective conclusion that our homemade batches were far superior than the stuff from the grocery store.

Now we’re in the next set of rotations and this time around we’re making jam. As we mash and boil strawberries with lemon juice and sugar, we’ve been talking about local food, eating things in season, the weird world of corn farming subsidies and high-fructose corn syrup, and whether the higher price of organic produce is worth it.

It’s been really exciting to have the chanachim (campers) in the mitbach. We’re making the kitchen a really active and integral part of machaneh this summer, and through the Mitbach Sadna (workshop) I’ve been able to meet every kid and have them meet me, and everyone at machaneh has been able to learn about and get more involved in what goes into their mouths to power them through our busy days at Na’aleh.

Excitement, advenutre

Lord knows why, but I wandered into Urban Outfitters today. I spun around in a daze for about 8 minutes, then left, really excited that I’m going to camp on Friday. The next two months will be spent making giant pots of chili, wearing an apron, teaching kids about sourdough, and hanging out in the woods where my phone doesn’t work. Things are gonna be good.

woman on the pie

If you have any suggestions about what I should do with the campers (I’m in charge of food-based education stuff), I’d love to know. Right now my notebooks are full of lists that include growing sprouts, making jam, baking bread, talking about the whole local/organic/etc debate, planting an herb garden, pickling eggs, having a Kraft Dinner vs Real Mac’n'Cheese cook-off, making ritz cracker “apple” pie…


So the apple-ginger scones that I made up, in my head and in my kitchen, turned out awesome. I gave up on following the recipe I found in one of my cookbooks about halfway through, because I didn’t have any buttermilk, so I just threw in yogurt and regular milk and some other stuff and they’re really spongy lumpy baked goods.

And then I left the kitchen one big mess because my housemate is away until tuesday and it’s fun to have a few days of solitude and disarray. I will tidy before he returns.

Following Instructions

I’m looking up scone recipes on the internet this morning, and they all suck. They all say things like “2 cups of bisquick” (bisquick? seriously? if was into using premade stuff I wouldn’t be looking up recipes!) or “spray pan with non-stick cooking spray” (that stuff is scary and gross!). Maybe it’s my own cooking up-bringing, raising myself on vegan cookbooks that all say things like “your choice of sweetener” to accommodate all the folks who don’t eat sugar/honey/agave nectar/whatever, but I want these recipes to say things like “do what you need to do to prevent these from sticking to the pan.”

If these recipes were in cookbooks, there’d be a whole intro section on nonstickage (or on sweeteners, or about substitutions, or whatever), and the recipes can refer you back to the what-cooking-is-all-about pages. But with the dumb internet, recipes are not part of a collection of anything, they’re one-offs. They’re hit singles with no album.

This makes me sort of sad–I feel like all these awesome skills, like the ability to curate or edit or collect or compile are slipping away. We get things totally disjointed and discrete.

I know that there are plenty of people curating all the stuff that’s on the internet–that’s what all those lovely blogs like CRAFT or Swissmiss or Kottke do. And I like them, but sometimes the endlessness of them feels tiresome. ESPECIALLY with the CRAFT blog–if anyone does anything crafty on the internet, it gets reposted there. And just as a link. It’s pointing: “look at this!” “look at that!” and most of it sucks. I know I shouldn’t get all righteous about something that is so clearly a promotional marketing tool for an overpriced magazine ($15 an issue!), but somehow it’s positioned itself at the head of the internet craft world.

Now I’m actually going to go make some scones.