February 26, 2010

Junk Food Tax in Romania

Introducing the Junk Food Tax
14 Jan 10 - Sloweb
Romania may be the first country to introduce a tax on junk food as early as March of this year, in an effort to fight obesity and increase the level of funding for its crisis-hit health system, Romanian authorities announced on Tuesday.

One in four Romanians suffers from obesity with diet-related diseases increasingly becoming a problem among the younger population. The country’s public health system suffers from chronic lack of funding with authorities warning that 2010 may see problems in financing some medical infrastructure and medicine.

"We intend to introduce a tax on fast food, soft drinks and candies in order to support national health programs," Health Minister Attila Cseke announced during a press conference in Bucharest. Full details of the tax still need to be developed, but it is expected that a special nutrition commission at the ministry level will be in charge of designing the tax. If approved, the levy would apply to producers of fast-food products, certain snacks and crisps, confectionery and soft drinks, and is estimated to bring around one billion euros (1.45 billion dollars) to the ministry's budget.

The announcement comes soon after Taiwan’s plans to become the first country to introduce a tax on junk food in an attempt to reduce obesity rates and encourage healthily eating. Such taxes have been considered in other countries, including France and Australia, but were not followed through due to concerns about the additional cost to consumers and the difficulty in coming up with a suitable scheme.

February 25, 2010

Pop Up General Store

Pop-Up General StoreTUESDAY, MARCH 2ND FROM 5-7 PM

Hi there! We wanted to let you know that we'll be popping up next Tuesday, March 2nd from 5-7pm. We hope you'll be able to swing by!
Please note that this is a departure from our previous Wednesday markets.We'll be making Boudin Blanc Sausages, Tuscan-Style Arista Pork Loin, Ragù Bolognese and Hand-Torn Straccetti Pasta.
We are also excited to have new offerings from several of our friends: e.b.c.b., Stacie Pierce, Melissa Fernández, Anthony Tassinello, Mary Jo Thoresen and Blue Chair Fruit!
We'll be there next Tuesday, March 2nd from 5pm to 7pm awaiting your arrival! We'll have lots of extras (including Chris's salami and coppa, as well as Goulash's Handmade English Muffins) for sale, so feel free to pop in even if you don't place an order!

Stop in for a taste!Please use this order form to place an order by Sunday, February 28th at 10am.

Become our fan!
Click here to become our fan on Facebook and help spread the word about Pop-Up General Store!

WHAT: Pop-Up General Store selling handmade sausages, pasta, sweets and more!
WHEN: Tuesday, March 2nd from 5pm to 7pm
HOW: Pre-order by Sunday, February 28th at 10am using this form and come ready with cash or check, as we are unfortunately unable to accept credit cards
Forward email

Pop-Up General Store 4629 Martin Luther King Jr. Way Oakland CA 94609
Deliciously brought to you by Samin Nosrat http://ciaosamin.blogspot.com/ and Chef Christopher Lee, both formerly of Eccolo on 4th St in Berkeley.

Organic Milk=Grass Fed Cows

A decade after such regulations were proposed, the USDA has passed new requirements for organic dairy farmers. New rules specify that cows must be allowed to graze on open pastures for at least 120 days of the year and get a minimum of 30 percent of their nutrition from fresh grass for their product to qualify as organic.

The decision marks a victory for organic food advocates, who have vigorously lobbied for the United States to revamp organic milk requirements.

February 24, 2010

Kumquats!! Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Special Symbolism of the Chinese New Year Celebration

Why are peach blossoms and kumquat trees such a welcome gift at a Chinese new year celebration? And what is it about fish served whole, duck, spring rolls, noodles, and bamboo shoots that make them abundant features of the traditional new years meal?

From special foods, to particular flowers and lucky numbers, the traditional Chinese new year celebration includes a myriad of auspicious symbols for longevity, prosperity, fertility, and all manner of good fortune. Whether hosting a new years party or attending a celebration, you may want to keep these in mind as you offer your intention and good wishes for the year ahead to family and friends.

Kumquat tree in Cantonese is called Gam Gat Sue. The word Gam rhymes with the Cantonese word for gold, and the word Gat rhymes with the Cantonese word for luck. In Mandarin, kumquat is jin jiu meaning "golden orange" symbolizing gold or wealth.

My Seneca teens tried these little sweet/tart golden nuggets today in a seasonal fruit salad and loved them! Lucia loves them too. Strangely enough "little kids" like sour things so don't be afraid to introduce them into their diet and expand their palates and combat the sweet treat habit.

As the annual Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco approaches this weekend, keep in mind these other foods that can help assure your good fortune and health this year.

Chicken and fish symbolize happiness and prosperity - especially when served whole, symbolizing togetherness of the family

Oranges and tangerines represent wealth and good fortune because they are golden and because they are China's most plentiful fruit. Traditional etiquette includes bringing a bag of these fruits whenever visiting family or friends during the 2-week long new years celebration. Tangerines with leaves intact assure that one's relationship with the other remains secure.

Noodles represent longevity (therefore, they should never be cut!)

Duck symbolizes fidelity, while eggs signify fertility.

Clams and spring rolls both symbolize wealth; clams because of their resemblance to bouillon, and spring rolls because their shape is similar to gold bars.

The word for fish (魚yú) sounds like the word for abundance or surpluses "(餘yú). As a result, on New Year's Eve it is customary to serve a fish at the end of the evening meal, symbolizing a wish for abundance in the coming year. For added symbolism, the fish is served whole, with head and tail attached, symbolizing a good beginning and ending for the coming year.

Turnips are served because their name "cai tou" also means "good omen".

The word for bamboo shoots also sounds like the phrase for "wishing that everything will be well".
Meanwhile...... here is a nice recipe for the new year......
Kumquat Chicken
1 1/2 tsp chili oil
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into 1/2 x 2 inch strips
2 T hoisin 1 T oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 T cornstarch
2 tsp Chinese 5 Spice powder
1/2 C chicken broth
1 T rice wine vinegar
1. In a large wok or skillet, combine the chili oil and grated ginger. Sauté on medium heat for 1 minute until fragrant.
2. Add chicken strips. Cook until chicken becomes opaque.
3. In a separate bowl, combine oyster sauce, cornstarch, sugar , chicken broth and 5 spice powder to taste. Stir until thickened. Add to chicken then immediately add kumquats.
4. Add vinegar, turn down heat, cover pan and simmer 5 minutes until chicken is done and kumquats are limp.
5. If necessary add water by teaspoons to keep mixture from becoming so thick it sticks and burns.
6. Serve over rice or noodles and garnish with thinly sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

February 22, 2010

Fresh Black Mole Enchiladas

My Husband Troy says that he is an Irishman by heritage, but a Latin lover in his heart. He LOVES Mexican food. Typically taco trucks are his weakness, not "chi chi" California style fresh Mexican food. I am constantly working to develop recipes that embrace both. Mexican depth of flavor and California healthy style.

Recently, I went to a "pop up" store in Oakland, organized by my friend Samin Nosrat, http://ciaosamin.blogspot.com who by the way was the catalyst and organizer for the wildly successful Bakesale for Haiti, and Chris Lee of the recently closed Eccolo and purchased some black mole sauce.

After watching Mexican food aficionado and Top Chef Masters winner, Rick Bayless go into eye-rolling ecstasy describing his first taste of black mole and his life-long quest to re-create it, I jumped at the chance to bring some home and source a great way to use it.

Inspired recently by a recipe that I saw in the San Francisco Chronicle, I tweaked this M'Lisa style and came up with a real winner that I tried out tonight for dinner. It was as beautiful to look at as it tasted, and even my taco truck loving, Portuguese Irishman Husband declared it a run away winner. Below is the M'Lisa-ized recipe. For those who are interested about what I changed, I have included at link to the original article as well.

The recipe includes a version of the afor-mentioned black mole, but for this recipe, I used the mole that I purchased from Samin and that was made by personal chef Melissa Fernandez www.figandmiel.com.

Enchiladas Under a Salad

Serves 6 with leftover sauce and picadillo.

You will have sauce and filling leftover for more enchiladas or to freeze. You can make the sauce a day before making the enchiladas.

  • Sweet Mole Sauce:

  • 5 dried ancho chiles
  • 6 dried guajillo chiles
  • 2 dried California chiles
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt + more later to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves - 2 peeled, 1 with husk
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 small tomato
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 whole cloves, crushed
  • 1 2-inch piece canela (cinnamon bark), broken up
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 small Knorr chicken bouillon cubes or 1 tablespoon Superior Touch "Better than Bouillon" (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar or one 3-inch piece piloncillo
  • 1 1/2 ounces Mexican chocolate (Abuelita brand or Oaxacan), chopped

  • Family Picadillo:

  • 6 peeled carrots, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 pound Prather Ranch ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon olive oil, as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • -- Black pepper to taste
  • 12 corn tortillas

  • The Salad:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • -- Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • -- About 3 cups crisp romaine lettuce cut into 1/2-inch thick ribbons
  • 4 watermelon radishes, washed, and thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

For the Sweet Mole Sauce: Put on a teakettle of water to boil and then use scissors to cut stems off dried chiles and cut chiles in half. Shake out seeds. If I see large white veins (the hottest part of chiles), I cut them out with the scissors. Do this operation over a spread out newspaper or your kitchen will be covered with seeds. Place chiles in a large heat-proof bowl and pour boiling water over them. If the chiles are cut up they tend to float less, but keep pushing the chiles into the water. Add the 2 teaspoons salt and the peeled garlic and soak for 1 hour.

While the chiles are soaking, heat a 10-inch skillet and toast the sesame seeds on medium heat until deeply golden, stirring constantly; remove from pan and set aside. While the pan is still hot, quickly toast the cumin seeds until dark brown and aromatic (be careful - they can burn quickly), then add to the the sesame seeds.

Increase heat to medium high; add the small tomato and remaining garlic clove (with husk). Cook the tomato until charred around the edges along with the garlic, turning the tomatoes over to char the other side. Add the oregano; stir to toast, about 30 seconds. Put aside to cool.

After 45 minutes to 1 hour, the chiles should be rehydrated. Pour off the soaking liquid, which can be bitter. Use a blender to puree the chiles (in batches as needed), adding just enough water to help puree. Pour puree through a wire strainer placed over a large bowl. Discard the skins (they are great in compost). After straining the last batch of chiles, pour the liquid back into the blender jar. Add the charred tomato, toasted garlic, sesame seeds, cumin, oregano, cloves and canela; puree.

Heat the olive oil in a deep, heavy pot and blend in flour until well mixed and smooth. Cook until slightly toasted or golden. Slowly whisk in the chile-spice puree and 3 cups water. Lupe always adds the bouillon because it is traditional. Add the sugar or piloncillo and the Mexican chocolate. Simmer the sweet sauce for 20 minutes over the lowest heat because it can splatter. Stir often to make sure the chocolate and sugar are well-dissolved. Add salt to taste, if needed. This sauce can be made a day in advance and refrigerated. Makes about 1 quart, enough for the enchiladas plus leftovers.

For the Family Picadillo: Sautee the onions and carrots in a spot of olive oil, until caramelized. Add the ground beef, use a potato masher to break up the meat and distribute the vegetables throughout. Pour off the excess fat. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Add the cooked black beans and diced tomato. Warm though. Set aside, cover and keep warm. Makes about 5 cups, enough for the enchiladas plus leftovers.

To assemble: Preheat the oven to 375°. Oil a 9- by 13-inch baking pan or 3-quart baking dish. Pour enough sauce into the prepared pan (just large enough to hold a tortilla) to fill the pan about 3/4-inch deep - about 2 cups. Heat until warm, if necessary. If the sauce has been refrigerated and has thickened, blend in a bit of water or chicken broth to thin it out.

Meanwhile, heat a griddle to warm tortillas on. Warm two at a time then lay them out on a flat plate. Place 1/4 cup of picadillo along one edge and roll up tightly. Place each rolled enchilada into the baking dish, seam side down. Place baking dish in the oven, and heat through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the salad. Whisk together lime juice, salt and oil. Add lettuce and radishes, toss together.

To serve: Remove enchiladas from the oven, and place 2 on each plate. Pile a heaping 1/2 cup salad over each serving, top with 2-3 avocado slices and sprinkle with goat cheese. Or, serve family-style on a platter.

Per serving: 484 calories, 18 g protein, 49 g carbohydrate, 25 g fat (7 g saturated), 46 mg cholesterol, 896 mg sodium, 7 g fiber.

Wine pairing: The mole is not overly hot, and it finishes with a sweet edge. A beer, a soft white or lighter-bodied red like Beaujolais will all work.

February 17, 2010

School Breakfast and Lunch

This is what my kids at Seneca Center had for breakfast today. Homemade Orange Marmalade Buttermilk Pancakes, Saggs Chicken Apple Sausages, and fresh warm fruit.
As many of you know, I have been working with the Slow Food folks on the School Lunch Initiative and awareness about this upcoming legislation coming before Congress in March this year. I guess you could say, it has become my passion to get all of my friends, family and acquaintances to lobby Congress that we need change across the board in school food. A move to healthier, more localised food....prepared daily for our kids by people like me who care.
It boggles my mind when I think of the slop my Husband Troy's daughter is served at school in Benicia. This is one of the Bay's wealthiest suburbs....lovely waterfront homes, a historic downtown and a safe town to raise your kid in with highly acclaimed schools. But what do they have for lunch? Steamed hamburgers out of wrappers. Soggy deep fried stuff. Canned fruit and vegetables or when the fruit is fresh....it has been sitting around for a very long time.
Why? Well like many school districts around the state of California and our great country...it is because we spend less per week on our kid's school food than we do FOR A SINGLE VENTI LATTE at Peet's.
Yes.......you heard me correctly. We spend less than $5 a week per child for breakfast and lunch for our kids. No wonder today's children are stressed, unhealthy, and hard to control! They have no nutrients in their little bodies to run them and their minds efficiently!!! This is not rocket science folks! What we put in.....we get out. We are creating an unhealthy future for our children and habits that will put them in the running to die before we do (for the first time in history). 1 in 5 children in this generation will have insulin dependant diabetes by the time they are 15. If you know any one with diabetes....you know that they can lose mobility, eye sight, and in the worse cases, people with uncontrolled diabetes can lose their limbs! Did you know that people with diabetes cannot get life insurance? Did you know that people with diabetes pay higher medical premiums? Did you know that automatically, many MDs will put people who have diabetes on blood pressure and cholesterol meds too? Did you know that all this medicine and the things that go with it can cost upwards of $200 a month?
Yes.......I have first hand experience. My sweet husband Troy is diabetic. He has learned about the damage to his body all too late. I know what this horrific disease can do and it is the food that we are choosing and the food that our government is choosing to feed our children everyday that is creating this epidemic.
But it can be stopped. WE can stop it. YOU can stop it!!! Demand from Congress that our schools get just $1 a day more for each student for nutritious, healthy, local, largely organic and sustainable food. Just a dollar a day more, can change everything.
It is up to you and me. If you would like to join me in lobbying Congress for just a dollar more for our kids.....for good, clean and fair food for everyone. Please click on the link below and let your voice be heard!