Archive for the 'food' Category

It’s no secret…

dory jon and kenan at the diner

(Jon, Kenan, and I ate breakfast at this diner in Afton that was pretty much the most perfect thing ever. We stopped at the Quickway diner on the way up, and the Roscoe coffeeshop on the way down. I’m happy just thinking about it a week later.)

No secret indeed that I love Upstate New York. Last weekend Jon and Keenan and Lady Grey and I went up to visit Na’aleh. We stayed in the ghost town of a site that Na’aleh is in the off season, and did pretty much everything we did all summer, but compressed into a day and a half: we went to 2 bars and three diners, bought used junk at an “antique store,” ate ice cream at the Treats and Eats, and went to Frog Pond Farms and saw the largest pumpkin ever:

dory and the pumpkin

I don’t mean this to be just a rattling off of things done. It’s just that these away weekends have been wonderful and the folks that I’ve spent them with have made me really happy.

This string of upstate adventures is over for a little while (especially since the trees are bare and the drives are that much less lovely). I can focus on here for a bit.

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.

the deeds were done and done again as my life is done…

I’ve been keeping a list on my arm of things to order, and right now it says:

  • Watermelon
  • Sugar cereal

Which makes me think of this:
Richard Braugtigan's In Watermelon Sugar

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.