• Posted by Califia Suntree on September 6th, 2012, 7:43 AM

    Blackberries + peaches wins my vote for summer’s best fruit combo. (Very close second: strawberries + anything.) But if you want to make a blackberry and peach cobbler the size of an ironing board, with local, burstingly ripe organic fruits–well, that’s gonna be one pricey dessert. (Unless you have a peach tree and a blackberry bramble, but I’m talking L.A. here folks.) Yet my mom did make said Flintstones-sized cobbler, thanks to the thrifty cook’s secret weapons: $1 per pound farmers market seconds, and what we like to call “alley fruit.” There has been a random and, it being SoCal, rather lonely blackberry bramble in the alley behind my mom’s house for at least 30 years. Every summer, she gets a steady little harvest to supplement her olallieberry, and avoids paying the $6 per pint going rate for the gleaming black gems. (The caviar of fruit!) Times are catching up with “alley fruit”–what used to be “scrounging” became “freeganism” then “urban foraging.” Now perhaps “hyperlocavoraciousness”? Anyway, the cobbler was massive and beyond delicious, and us two ladies ate the whole thing in three days. Good thing it was so cheap!

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on September 3rd, 2012, 8:01 PM

    Given that it has both Pollan and Bittman in its stable of writers, it surprises me how the New York Times insists on printing aggravatingly lopsided articles about organic food. In a one-two follow up to the “exposé” of July 7th–of the big-business aspect of organic agriculture–today we saw a report on a recent Stanford study under the misleading headline: “Study Questions Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce.” That, of course, depends on your definition of “advantage.” Not surprisingly, to me anyway, organic produce and meats had no greater nutritional value than conventionally grown food–and just as much bacteria. Thus, the writer declares, no health advantage.

    Except, of course, “[o]rganic produce, as expected, was much less likely to retain traces of pesticides.” Oh, and “[o]rganic chicken and pork were less likely to be contaminated by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.” But other than that, NO advantages. So, the implication goes, you organic crunchy types are being ripped off! I mean, unless you consider the absence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and measurable pesticides in your food supply an “advantage.”

    But what goes completely unmentioned here, and what galls me in its consistent absence from such coverage, is right there in the photo illustrating the article: the field workers who suffer unconscionably from exposure to some of the most toxic chemicals on earth. (Read Barry Estabrook’s Tomatoland if you want a sense of the horrific human toll of pesticides on farmworkers.) While it may be my choice to pay more in order to avoid consuming these chemicals, these workers aren’t afforded that luxury. Does that not count as an “advantage”? Is that not a real, human health impact? Or does only the health of the consumer matter in this absurd equation?

    via Study Questions Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce – NYTimes.com.

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on August 27th, 2012, 10:18 PM

    Squirrels are back in the news! More specifically, Steve Rinella’s delicious lemon-thyme-marinated grilled squirrel. Steve wrote a meditation on hunting squirrels the old fashioned way–with a shotgun–for Spooning in ’08, and in today’s New York Post, he tells us what the landscape for urban squirrel-eaters looks like in 2012. If the grilled squirrel piques your interest–and oh but it should!–check out my Spooning Test Kitchen piece, featuring Steve’s complete recipe, with step-by-step photos.

    Steve’s new memoir, Meat Eater, drops on September 4. Anthony Bourdain blurbs, “It’s a look both backward, at the way things used to be, and forward, to a time when every diner truly understands what’s on the end of the fork.” Here’s to squirrels past, present, and future!

    Urban chow-boy – NYPOST.com.

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on August 6th, 2012, 3:23 PM

    Should you find yourself en route to Mammoth, Yosemite or the eastern Sierras for a long weekend of healthy, outdoorsy activities, might I suggest that, instead, you stop in Bishop, book a motel room, and stuff your face morning til night with croissants, baguettes, and flourless chocolate Sierra Mud cookies from the Great Basin Bakery. You may come home butter-soaked and chubby, instead of tanned and fit, but you will have reveled in the best croissants this side of Paris (must try: spinach and cheese, warmed up, with a mug of strong coffee), dense, perfectly chewy sourdough, and oh those dark, gooey Sierra Muds! Our Yosemite camping trip was markedly more deluxe thanks to our Great Basin treats–their mini-baguettes made for delightful cheese sandwiches, enlivened with red pepper charred over the campfire–and now, back in pastry-deficient Santa Monica, we long mournfully for those croissants. Is 267 miles too far to drive for breakfast?

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