Tuesday, June 1, 2010

coffee talk...

coffee talk...

dipping diagonal, buttered toast
in milk and coffee at the age of six;
coffee from a mug and toast
eaten every morning before school,
the smell of milky coffee breath when I breathed
on the back of my wrist and then sniffed it;
smooth Maxwell House blend in the blue can,
with the tipped cup and last drop graphic,
on weekends relished with the contents
of a large brown bakery bag
toted by my two bachelor uncles;
crumb cake, poppy-seeded hard rolls
with plump little noses on top which
I would tear off, butter and eat first;
coffee served in translucent china,
at wedding showers mostly in May,
sipped demurely by the bride-to-be
from under a white paper plate hat
pierced and decked with ribbons and bows;
coffee consumed at weddings with layer cake,
cruising the tables to finish uneaten icing
while grownups danced off their drink;
buying Eight O'Clock 100% Arabica beans
at the grocer and having them noisily ground,
dial set to drip, by the hefty machine mounted
at the end of the steel check-out counter;
the smell of the roasted, crushed beans
in the red bag wafting up from the bouncing cart
all way home from the A&P across town;
Sanka, eaten bitter and bone dry off a spoon
or sprinkled with sugar onto buttered Arnold white,
tasted no better dissolved in hot water
than the Pero that was served to us children at night;
the cranked, wall-mounted burr grinder
received one Christmas by my mother,
which woke me every morning all through high school;
buying whole Bokar beans “vigorous and winey”
in the black bag and puzzling the check-out person
because I did not want them ground up;
coffee ice cream from Grunnings in South Orange
(the peach in season and lemon were also divine)
was well worth the walk from Irvington and the half jog
all the way home in summer with my sister Judith;
a cup of coffee was like a “cone of silence”
absorbing the sound of bad news as well as good;
coffee cooked up in my father’s tall, shiny, aluminum percolator
(we were never permitted to scrub it clean),
which became my mother’s percolator when I was eight years old;
I remember comprehending quietly over a cup of coffee
brown-black and glistening like a coffin
that my dad would not be going to or coming home
from the hospital in an ambulance or taxi ever again;
I have been dunking bread in coffee all my life,
softening the crust and trying to decipher fortune
from the swirl of drying dregs at the bottom of the cup;
toasting with my husband over breakfast,
we clink our honeymoon Black Dog Café mugs
brimming with local roaster delights
and toast to luck, love and happiness,
on weekends at breakfast over rice cream cereal,
with melted sharp cheddar on top and
bright yellow turmeric-scented scrambled eggs;
remembering with gratitude, workers
who poke holes in soil, plant beans, sweat and harvest,
growing dreams and solace for people they don't know
more than half a world away…
lucy meskill

I credit my mom with making a coffee-lover of me, she made one hell of a cup, you could stand a spoon up in it, yet it went down easy as a smooth summer rain. I would rather do without, than drink a bad cup of coffee!

My husband and I are avid, yet moderate coffee drinkers, our three most favorite local Coffee roasters are: Small World Coffee in Princeton, N.J. , Rojo's Roastery in Lambertville, N.J., and Homestead Coffee Roasters in Upper Black Eddy, P.A. All three are quite different from each other and fantastic in their own distinct way. My favorites are: from Small World, Rocket Blend which is a very a smooth, clean, scrumptious eye opener; my favorite from Rojo's is Midwives Moonshine, a rich, delicious breakfast coffee with a slow jolt and steady energy burn; and last but not least my favorite from Homestead is their Steady Eddy Decaf, a wonderfully delicate yet deeply toasty evening blend.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Taking back our food...

I don't know when exactly it started but it's been going on since long before this baby boomer was born. I'm guessing that our story begins at the turn of the last century, around 1900, when the industrial factory-farming machine was born. Right from the cradle they launched a campaign to separate food from the farm and cooking from the kitchen.

This began with advertising campaigns based on a culture of want. By making us want what we didn't have, their campaigns have managed to spin most of the world off it's emotional axis. Developing in us a desire for perceived convenience was key, also a craving for the "big three", as I call them: fat, salt and sugar. By producing foods overly saturated with the "big three", they have effectively destroyed our ability to taste anything else.

This is also where the food industry's giant carbon-footprint stems from. They have evolved us into a culture of waste, by overly complicating the process of producing and over-packaging this dream. These manufactured cravings and desires have been the fuel of their engine ever since. We have been eager to consume foods which have made us overweight, sick, addicted and emotionally unstable.

So how does this little history lesson all relate to gluten-free eating you may ask, well I'll tell you. At first when people were diagnosed with gluten intolerance they immediately had to learn how to feed themselves. This in most cases, unless you were rich enough to have someone else do your cooking for you, meant learning how to cook. There was not much convenience food to be had. The really scary thing to me is that, with approximately 1 in 150 people in the U.S. suffering from either full blown Celiac disease or seriously debilitating gluten-intolerance, the industrial food complex has targeted us as their next, new exploding market. I am shocked by how quickly the shelves in my local supermarket are filling with gluten-free products whose ingredient list you need a degree in science to understand. Just because the label says gluten-free, does not mean it's good for you. Opportunistic food giants banking on our laziness, are ready to pounce. They are planning to make billions of dollars from our inability or lack of desire to simply cook for ourselves. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying don't by any pre-packaged gluten-free products. I am saying, be careful what you buy, look for short ingredient lists that do not rely too heavily on corn thickeners and all sorts of starches. Be sensible, eat mostly fresh, well-prepared real food supplemented, if you like, by gluten-free convenience foods like crackers, pizza crust etc.

Do not let carbon-guzzling food manufacturers carjack your food regimen by luring you into to the back seat while they drive your cravings. Becoming gluten-free is not a jail-sentence but a blessed opportunity to take back your food, take back your life, take back your taste buds, take back your health. I heartily encourage all my gluten-free readers to learn to experience the satisfying joys of cooking for yourselves and your families, you won't regret it.

Find out about local CSA's, locate a nearby farmer's market, go shopping and get cooking. It's really easy, if you just resolve to do it. Thanks for listening, have a beautiful gluten-free day!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rhubarb Crisp with a twist...

I won't bore you with all of the details--ok, just a few--about why I have been away from my gluten free blog for so long. Let me simply say that it began last Fall with a little (ha!) bout H1N1 Flu, which led to pneumonia, which led to some awful side effects from an antibiotic, then more long term side effects, then came the holidays, and then blessed Spring, with much gardening and writing, while also making lots and lots of Art along the way. The long and short of it is that I will be posting on a more regular basis. So, "Hi there!" I'm back, experiencing once again, delusions of readership with my 1,448 all time page impressions. Since I have always loved whistling in the dark... here goes...

This afternoon I was faced with a difficult choice between making dinner or dessert. Since fresh delicious Rhubarb in the fridge just won't wait, dessert won! I have based this gluten free Rhubarb Crisp on a recipe from Mark Bittman.

We love the Bitten blog around here--my husband and I--and his ethical approach to cooking. His recipes are simple, straight forward, honest and delicious. He has a, not-much-ado-about-something, humility that we really like. I had so much fun converting, subverting and turning this one towards the gluten free side of the force. I strayed from the Cinnamon camp and have spiced it more like a chutney. I hope you enjoy it!

about 6 cups of local Rhubarb (the tart smell always makes me smile) cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
1/4 cup Sugar (I used Organic Domino sugar)
1 Tbsp. organic Lemon juice
1 tsp. organic Lemon zest
1/8 tsp. mild Cayenne pepper--add more, if you like heat

3/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 cup rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill certified Gluten Free Rolled Oats)
1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour (also Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup Millet flour (Bob’s Red Mill yet again!)
Pinch of Salt
1 tsp. ground Coriander
1/2 tsp ground Garam Masala
1 cup organic Pecans
8 Tbsp. softened butter (I love Lurpak brand for its low water content)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8x12 inch Pyrex baking dish with butter. In a bowl toss the Rhubarb with Sugar, Lemon juice, Lemon zest, and Mild Cayenne pepper (make sure that the pepper is well spread to avoid hot spots!) spread into baking dish.

Put the 8 tablespoons Butter in a food processor along with Brown sugar, Millet and Brown Rice flours, Coriander, Garam Masala and Salt, pulse until it begins to clump together. Add Oats and Pecans and pulse a bit more until combined.

Crumble the topping over Rhubarb and bake until golden and beginning to brown, 45 to 50 minutes.

*eco note: use what is left of your lemon as a sponge to bleach your cutting board--it removes rhubarb stains-- and clean your sink. I never compost a lemon until it is completely used up.

Thanks so much for stopping by and have an ever so beautiful day!

*My husband Dave worked late--and missed dinner--every night this week, not getting home from the city before 9:00PM. This Rhubarb Crisp was a godsend, it was the perfect--not too sweet, not too rich--snack for him paired with some Nancy's Yogurt.