Tag Archives: Food

I can’t believe its butter

My brother told me a telling story about the last days of his mother-in-law’s life. She was dying from cancer at much too young of an age. My brother went into her refrigerator and saw she was still eating a strange product called “I can’t believe it’s not butter.”

“You can have real butter,” he told her.

But that’s how we viewed such things for far too long as it turns out. We thought food scientists could make better, healthier food than the stuff God had sustained life on this planet with since its first global turn. We thought things like butter were death to us and for years we made it a pariah of food. We thought that eating butter was a treat that a dying woman could afford but the rest of us… not unless we wanted to join her.

We thought wrong, way wrong as it turns out.

For decades we’ve been sold a bill of goods that has cost us billions annually and ruined our health. It’s been one of the worst scams ever perpetuated on the American people.

A new all-encompassing study by the reputable National Institutes of Heath found that a high-fat, low-carb diet “improves nearly every health measurement, from reducing our waistlines to keeping our arteries clear, more than the low-fat diets that have been recommended for generations,” a new story in Men’s Journal reported.

“The medical establishment got it wrong,” a cardiologist said in the article. “Their belief system didn’t pan out.”

Indeed, the results were so sweeping it took everything we’ve ever been told about eating a “low-fat diet,” which often centers on food scientist-created products to artificially remove fat from stuff we now call food, and turned it on its ear.

Another physician said the evidence that saturated fat is bad for your heart has “disintegrated.”

“In fact, a new Annals of Internal Medicine review of 72 studies and hundreds of thousands of subjects found no strong evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease,” the story reports. An NIH researcher said in 25 years of clinical trials there has been virtually no opposition to this finding.

The study is truly a game-changer because not only does it explode the billion-dollar, low-fat, processed-food economy and the artificial weight-loss economy that has directly contributed to the epidemic of obesity our country suffers, but it directly challenges the calorie-counting shibboleth that has stubbornly refused to go away.

Because high-fat foods, i.e. natural foods like avocado, nuts, lean meats and yes, the deliciously extravagant culinary delight we call butter, are high in calories, those treating the human body like a calculator have long said simple math would bring weight loss. For the millions who have tried it, and failed, we know how defeating it can be to watch those calories and reduce the joy of food to a computerized intake system only to see our bellies continue to bulge.

The definite word on this is in: “We no longer think low-fat diets are the answer,” says American Heart Association nutritional committee member, Dr. Linda Van Horn.

The practical application is the millions of dollars that went into funding and researching low-fat, contrived diets are finally flowing toward healthier, organic, local, non-processed and yes, high-fat diets.

It turns out, I had it right when I wrote the secret of how I lost 100 pounds: eat right (which means eat real food) and exercise. No, I didn’t make that up. I’m not Al Gore. But after years and years of never-ending diets when I finally said “EFF That!” and just started eating what I knew was good for me and working out with discipline, the weight came off (helped I’m sure by sobriety for the first time in my life).

But you know who knew it? My Nonie.  Until the day she died at the ripe old age of 95 she never went to a hospital for an illness and refused to eat the crap that everyone around her touted as healthy. She loved butter. She insisted on it. I remember when my Aunt came over and made Pasta de Pesto and refused to put in butter because it was unhealthy. Nonie groused. She didn’t eat it much when the food came. Later she was still grousing.

“It needs butter,” she mumbled.

She was right, in so many ways!

I leave you now with my new favorite recipe that I’ve used a couple of times a week recently to combat the trend toward carbs and sugar in breakfast (like in my favorite granolas or English muffins or even many fruit and yogurt smoothies). I call it Butter Bomb Coffee! But really, it’s no more my invention than eat right and exercise. I got it from an earlier story in Men’s Journal, which made the compelling argument that butter in my morning coffee would quell cravings and give me an energy boost. The Bride and I both tried it and felt the immediate impact! Enjoy!

Butter Bomb Coffee

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Ingredients

  • 12 oz cup of hot coffee
  • 2 pats of butter
  • 1 spoonful of coconut oil
  • dash of cinnamon
  • splash of half and half

Put all ingredients except the coffee in a mug then pour hot coffee over it swirling until its mixed. It’s da bomb!

 

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Dept. of AG’s farmers market strikes discordant note

Wandering around the nation’s capital recently I weaved through some tourists and ended up in a cornfield.

Hard to believe, I’m sure, so I took a photo:

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The corn was thick and green and tall and everything corn should be. It was grown on a patch of soil just off the Mall, one of the busiest tourists centers in the country. Towering above it in the background loomed the massive Dept. of Ag building.

At first I thought it lovely to see such beautiful crops outside the center of policy making for our country’s food source. As we wandered we saw several of these little urban gardens, including a lovely flower explosion near the Dept. of Treasury and signs for a Dept. of Ag farmers market on Fridays.

Initially I pondered how far we’ve come in a short period to radically change the way we think about food and hopefully soon (but all evidence suggests, not yet) change the way we eat. I mean, can you imagine crops and flowers and a farmers market during the Bush Administration?

Eventually, my thoughts shifted from such pleasantries that this little effort of planting corn was clearly supposed to evoke to a far more cynical view. This was propaganda at its worst. Maybe the Bush Administration did start this farmer’s market after all?

The American Food Culture was once largely agricultural-based: native seeds turned to food and livestock raised on clean ground that turned to clean food. We had no idea what GMO was because it didn’t exist. But with the rise of the industrialized food economy — pretty much McDonald’s, Monsanto and Sysco serve as standard bearers though its far too simplistic to blame only them — we developed the most inexpensive, ecologically destructive and poisonous food system in the world.

The Department of Ag’s role is developing and executing federal government policy on farming, agriculture, forestry, and food. That policy, we well know is beholden to industrial food giants that put onerous burdens on local farmers and tip the scales toward the industrialization of the family farm. That policy has created a food system that favors billionaire stockholders over the people who pay the taxes for the Dept. of Ag to exist. That policy has created a national food system that is not only a joke among the other cultures of the world, but is proving to kill us with greater efficiency than ever before. That policy protects the farm bill, which does more to bastardize the notion of farming (turning entire Midwest states into corn and soybean mills akin to California’s industrialized cattle “ranches” seen from the I-5 freeway) into something few of our grandfathers would even recognize.

I’m admittedly painting with a broom here, over-simplifying a complex problem so interwoven within our culture we barely know how to eradicate ourselves. There simply aren’t enough “Surgeon General Warnings” to protect us from the myriad chemicals and radicals and toxins in our food and in the products we make our food with any longer. Laying it all at the Dept. of Ag building is an oversimplification as well.

But that Gothic monolithic building that covers a prominent block in the nation’s capital stands for something bigger than a patch of goodwill corn can eradicate.

By the time I left the corn patch, the initial pleasure it evoked was gone, replaced by a sadness for the lack of sound government policy, the ability to do anything constructive in the entire complex that is DC and more importantly for the rank hypocrisy that serves as education these days. Spin, the politicians call it. Once used only briefly in election cycles and shirked aside when the task of legislation and leadership began, it is now a 24/7/365 policy of government (and even merging into the media) mind control that’s primary mission is to make obsolete the essential “well-informed electorate.”

We’ve been spun so long we no longer know what stillness is. A corn patch outside the Dept. of Ag is spin, and hides the policy conducted inside that is as disharmonious with farmers markets as Mega Churches are to Christian Community.

Foods — like people — I don’t like turn up just fine

One of my favorite food moments was in Kauai when the personal chef for Ben Stiller came  to our rented house to cook a dinner for us. My only condition was that he couldn’t serve us. He had to teach me. I became his sous chef for the night, still one of the best culinary experiences of my life.

He told me “food is love.”

He also said, there were no bad foods. Nobody should dislike any foods. It’s all about the way the food is prepared and with what combination. Find something to celebrate the food, he said, rather than dismiss it.

I took it to heart. I still cook to say “I love you.” And I still vow to like every food I try, which simply wants to please me and say “I love you back.”

Which leads me to Rhubarb. It was stubbornly on the “dislike” side of the ledger. I couldn’t really find a way to use the stringy, weird tasting stalks in a way I liked. Chunks of rhubarb in pie didn’t appeal to me either. There was no love lost here.

But the color appealed to me. I was determined to find a use. I simply pulverized it. Using a juicer I extracted the flavor with none of the stubborn stringiness. Then I used a remaining stalk for a stir stick. It turned out great. Love flowed.

I am reminded of this challenge whenever I start to dismiss a food. I give it a second chance now. I try to find new combinations to extract its creative beauty. Maybe it’s not a solo act, but can it blend in four-part harmony? Often it takes a different type of preparation to truly embrace the distinctive flavor.

Cinnamon is one such example. I’ve liked it just fine, but never used it beyond a combination with sugar, mostly on pumpkin-type recipes. But it’s health benefits as a true super food appealed to me. I played with it. I discovered what Latinos have known for ages: it goes perfect with chili powder in savory dishes to give a robust flavor that is anything but sweet. Now I LOVE cinnamon. It’s a go-to-spice.

The obvious comparison here is to how we experience people. Those first experiences often set a course of judgement. That one bad taste, one bad circumstance can spoil the flavor of the friendship forever. We move it to from the “love” column to the “hate” with no room for a middle, evolving, creative view.

There are no “bad” foods. What, just what if, there were no “bad” people either?

Find something to celebrate the person, I say to myself, rather than dismiss it.

Please Stop Putting Non-food Into Our Food | Food Riot

Check out this great article on what we eat. I mean, I love my yoga mat, but not for dinner!

This sets the stage for tomorrow’s blog post on organicanizing the BPA out of my kitchen. Enjoy.

Look, it’s bad enough that our diets are all out of whack because food companies have to cover up things that taste horrendous with mountains of sugar, fats, and salt. And on top of that, we have to wonder and worry about GMOs, organic vs. non-organic, the global impacts of buying local, whether human beings are “meant” to eat this or that food, obesity crises — it’s a wonder that we can put any food into our mouths without dissolving into neurotic blobs of jelly over it. Eating in the 21st century has become a complicated issue.

So, at the very least, can y’all please stop putting non-food into our food? Please.

The most recent “what the f*** have I been eating” incident has been a plastic-based chemical found in the bread at Subway. Every time we’ve gone to Subway, we have essentially been ingesting a tiny bit of the stuff in yoga mats and rubber-soled shoes. Instead of kind of being horrified by this, in an “oh my God, what have we turned into that we’re feeding plastic to people”, Subway was just like, well, the USDA says this shit won’t kill you, but if you don’t WANT to eat plastic I guess we’ll take it out.

And look, y’all. I have nothing against food-based chemicals in our food. Like, carrageenan is made from sea kelp; I have a package of sea kelp in my pantry right now, so a chemical derived from it doesn’t bug me as a food additive. (I have sea kelp to make veggie stocks. It’s like umami magic.) Guar gum, which is derived from a bean, doesn’t freak me out as a food additive anymore than cornstarch does. Beans are a thing that you eat. I’m cool with these chemicals.

What I don’t eat, and don’t want to eat, is a yoga mat.

via Please Stop Putting Non-food Into Our Food | Food Riot.

The quest to organicanize my kitchen begins now

The Bride fears spiders. I fear cancer. My phobia seems far more realistic than hers, which pisses me off. I wish I could just Man Up, grab a flip-flop and smash cancer.

I like to think I’m going to live to be 120 or so, still snowboarding at 95 and jogging my codger-like shuffle when I’m 110. My heart is good (If I could, I would frame my blood-pressure test of two years ago of 108/52, but that was after I cut off all coffee and sodium for a month, neither of which I’ll likely do again.) I’m pretty fit. I’m convinced that radical anti-aging discoveries in biology will reverse the decay of telomeres and allow people to naturally extend life.

But the big C, well that’s the deal breaker. It pops up anywhere on anyone, no matter how healthy. Consider Australia. Now there’s a pretty fit country with an active lifestyle and a healthy food culture. But guess what’s killing them off? Yep, the big C. It’s a bad-luck-kind-of gotcha illness. If it doesn’t straight kill you, the treatment alone nearly does. Scares me to no end.

Rather than obsessively worry or fixate like The Bride does with spiders, I put a fair degree of time into removing toxins from my life. First we tackled the meat we eat, a monster culprit for ingesting cancer-causing materials. In addition to our steer, we have booked a pig for June and will soon add organic local chickens to our freezer.

Gardening our vegetables will bolster what we can get from our vibrant farmers’ market community, all of which keeps untold pesticides from our kitchen. Certain foods, like all vegetables in plastic packaging for example, are banished from the kitchen. The Bride has even begun experimenting with DIY beauty products to make sure we’re not rubbing toxins on our skin.

But despite all this, it hit me the other day as I overheard a webinar The Bride listened to from her school (she’s studying contemporary holistic medicine). The presenter talked at some length about the types of kitchen tools we use. My reaction was pretty much the same as when The Bride saw a spider in the tub, only my scream was on the inside.

It dawned on me that I was virtually ignorant about the types of products I was using to cook the food I had tried to be so careful in choosing. This feeling could best be described as a pot of cold water tossed over my head during a hot shower.

I woke up, I’ll tell you that.

So in the weeks to come, I’m going to completely dive into the facts — not the hype or my paranoia-induced theories –about making my kitchen as organic and pesticide-free as my food. I’m going to consider every tool I use and get past the hype to find out what has to go and what can stay.

The hype factor is no small thing, because in case you haven’t noticed, getting reliable information these days is not so easy. The Super Highway of the Internet is a virtual L.A. traffic jam of misinformation, hype, conspiracy theory, fad-of-the-day “facts,” political spin and plain ole fashioned bullshit.  You look across the landscape of information and you feel a bit like…

rules2

Sifting through the morass to find legitimate facts and useful, realistic solutions isn’t easy, which I suspect has contributed to my ignorance. I just didn’t want to get stuck in this particular traffic.

Also, the solutions can’t be so expensive only the uber-elite can afford them. It’s no coincidence the poor are more susceptible to illness and death. They get the full brunt of society’s harmful products.

This rich/poor chasm is a big reason why I don’t subscribe to the lefty lib-dem elitist political agenda that has it roots dug deep in my beloved San Francisco. At the core I share the same values, but like the wonderful Slo-food movement and so much localvore eating and so many other trendy healthy movements, they are often disconnected from the realities of surviving on a lower class income. If you haven’t gone to a grocery story and agonized about the extra dollar for the organic milk you really shouldn’t be spouting off about the food choices of the poor. If you’ve never had to shop at Wal-Mart because it was your only hope of not spending the last few dollars in your account, you’re not paying attention to the real issues at hand.

So with the goal of realistic inclusion I begin my investigation. I will report the findings here. I am going to delve into a whole array of hoof-to-head health, like best kitchen utensils, essential choices when buying ingredients holding the cost and the health factors in balance, and even gardening to maximize inexpensive food alternatives.

I’ll file these under a new category, called Organicanize to make it easy to reference in the future.

Some of you have expertise on these subjects, so please comment below and feel free to point me in respected directions. I appreciate all the guidance you can offer.

I want to kick the Big C out of my life as best I can, knowing I can never fully win. It still feels better taking a healthy swipe with the flip-flop than just sitting around being scared.

Breakfast: all that it’s cracked up to be

I love breakfast.

The thought occurs having just finished it, which I do virtually every day and never grow tired of doing, nor do I grow tired of thinking how much I love it. Breakfast is the gift that keeps on giving.

My bride knows this, which is why she took me out recently for my birthday breakfast — not dinner.Her, coffee, the San Francisco Chronicle and a big breakfast equals WHALLA! Perfecto.

Think about it. Breakfast usually costs half of dinner. You can take your time, read the newspaper, drink copious amounts of coffee and nobody complains. You also don’t have to worry about the cocktail menu or the wine list seductively vying for your attention.You don’t have to worry about some jackass wanting your table. Even the wait staff are more laid back, like “take all the time you need…” instead of “eh hem.. will you need anything else this eeeveening…” Only at breakfast do servers call me “honey.” I like that.

And of course, unlike most any other nutrition and diet advice that has the shelf life of a slab of tuna, breakfast has staying power as the best meal of the day. Think about it… again: Calorie counting has risen and fallen from favor and risen and fallen again, as have low-fat diets, protien-diets, fasting diets, superstar diets, and on and on and on. But most every diet says eat breakfast. What’s not to love about these:

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I lost 100 pounds and have kept it off (eh… most of it) for more than two years. I learned a lot about weight control and read enough to test out of graduate degree program. I treated myself like a human lab rat, and still do to find what works for me. I’ve tried most everything. But there are only two things I’d cement into any other thing I do to stay healthy and they are this: 1) Eat right and exercise. 2) Eat breakfast.

Now listen to me, because have you ever noticed all the people talking about diets and stuff look like my buddy Ed here:

IMG_20131102_210302

I love Ed, but he really isn’t the best guy to empathize with a fat guy, you know. I am. I’m a fat guy… its in my Italian DNA even if I’ve got the belly beat back. So listen when I tell you, we’ve been conned.

Think about it…really this time… We spend billions a year on weight loss and we are fatter than we’ve ever been. My entire life span has seen diet and fitness dominate the conversation since my Italian mother went “healthy” on us and rid our house of Hostess and General Foods (the memory lurks from a dark place… shudder…). The only cereal we could have that wasn’t like eating bark off a tree was Honey Combs because we convinced Mom it was made of honey, not sugar.

This was nearly forty years ago. And the diet and fitness craze just keeps on coming with no tangible results to show for it. We spend billions and its a fraud. Weather forecasters do a better job. So does Congress, and that’s saying something.

Still thinking? Think about this: Food permeates every culture… even a place where food is terrible, like this book talks about. In our culture, we get it all wrong almost all of the time. For all we know, we haven’t learned a thing.

You don’t need to spend billions of dollars. Everything you need to know I just said — see rules 1 and 2 — and I’m living proof because I’m the rare breed that lost the weight and kept it off.

I still work at it everyday I watch it everyday. I blow it everyday. But overall, it works, because I keep it simple. Eat right and exercise… and eat breakfast.

Now, one final thought on breakfast (think… think… think). Stop giving breakfast short thrift. It seems tough at first because there doesn’t seem to be as much variety as dinner, nor do we make time like we do for dinner. But change your thinking. If you plan breakfast like you plan dinner, it will come alive. Get up a bit earlier… enjoy it!

Also, you can reduce carbs and sugar and still keep a lot of flavor. I’ll write a lot more about this in days to come because after all, I love breakfast. (And please reply below with any questions you’d love to see address in future posts) But here’s a simple example:

Yogurt and granola are not great for you. They are loaded with sugar and high on the GCI. So too are bagels and donuts (of course… doesn’t mean I still don’t love em) and cereals in general and toast and pancakes and waffles and… you get my point. But you can eat more carbs in the morning than you can later in the day, so you have some flexibility built in. More importantly you don’t have to eat like Ed, who thinks breakfast is chicken and rice. Ed, that’s not breakfast. That’s Sunday dinner in the state pen.

Also, with a little creativity you can redress those issues and still enjoy it. For my granola and yogurt, I don’t eat it more than a couple of times a week. When I do, I eat plain instead of flavored yogurt, add a scoop of vanilla protein instead of sugar, use a small amount of fruit instead of a whole piece of fruit, and use whole grain and fiber granola. Add a piece of oat bran toast and non-hydrogenated peanut butter, and whalla! Breakfast of champions!

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Of course, my omelette’s rule too, but that’s another topic for another day… speaking of another topic for another day, I just figured out what next week’s test kitchen ingredient is! Oooh…. that will be a good one, but I digress.

Think about it: Love your breakfast. Or as the old adage says, “Eat like a Republican for breakfast, a Democrat for lunch and a green part member for dinner….” or something like that.

Take a this poll… why not?

Testing this week is like nectar of the gods

I have to admit, caramel intimidated me a bit when this week started. It seemed temperamental… exactly the opposite of why I do this nonsense.

The first batch of caramel was …. well … something other than caramel. It was gooey and tasted ok but looked white and slid around so I just made it into a sauce and served it at Thanksgiving in an apple crisp where it was good, but hidden.

So I knew what I was up against… Not to mention, expectations were high. Folks came hard after the caramel sweepstakes mailing to be sent out at week’s end (for those playing along from home, EffinArtists.com sends out a mailing each week to whoever bribes us the best…errr…. is the lucky winner of a surprise package of whatever we make for our test kitchen). Apparently, their confidence in me was, well, incongruent to use a term I learned way, way back before failing out of grad school.

Anyway, I do not shy away from a challenge. If caramel was going to mean mug me, then it was on. “Let do this!” I shouted as I walked into the test kitchen.

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I’m not even done yet, but as you can see from above, I made that caramel my … uh.. never mind. Let’s just say park bench and try not to lose our PG rating.

A few days into this project and I’ve given those worries the beat down. This stuff so far is bomb.com! Check out this gooey, gooey goodness…

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I can honestly say these cookies are so good I decided to make a list of top five best all-time cookies. These are on the list, which is still under development. I’ve lost at least an hour to pondering it, recalling cookies from days gone by. That was a good hour though.. ummm…

The bottom line is this stuff has game. To my lovely family vying for the surprise package at week’s end, here’s the translation: You need to step it up. I want a visit. Especially on Jan. 1-5 for someone to go snowboarding with me. So call me and make plans, then get in your car and head north. That’s the trump card this week.

Who says bribes don’t work?

News from the Test Kitchen: Caramel

With the waist line being a growing cause for concern, the Effin Artistry focused has moved toward restoration projects of late, BUT do not be alarmed as the test kitchen remains in action nonetheless. We are, after all, addicts, and well, the recent chocolate addiction now rivals the caffeine so we will continue creating — with the hope of some balance of consuming.

Before I get to the ingredient of the week, it bears noting that the one week I didn’t offer a weekly winner (last week’s leftovers focus) this forum was like the classroom in the 80s movie Real Genius where indifferent students leave recorders in the classroom instead of attending to listen to a lecture left by a professor on a recorder in his absence. Only you all didn’t even put up a recorder! Duly noted. Everyone starts this week having to make up ground if they expect to be rewarded. Participation is a responsibility not a luxury here… As my bride tells me, I am indeed a sensitive sort despite the rugged exterior.
SO guess what this week is??? By popular demand… the ingredient is…
drumroll….
Caramel!
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Thank you, thank you… take your seats… thank you… you are too kind…
Let the begging begin now. I don’t mind saying I have high hopes for the package going out this week, not only to be delicious, but to actually be artistic (and safely arrive in said condition despite a staggering hostility from our so-called tireless postal working community).
New exciting restoration projects are also underway, but will likely be kept under the cloak of an Apple Jobsians secrecy until after Christmas.
The work begins… now. Check back for photos and updates…
Some of the comments (err.. sucking up) so far… Effin Artist is nothing without the peanut gallery:
– I would like to point out, that I check both blogs daily and commented both in phone call text and on Facebook. I was in class!
– I think I speak for all of us when I mutter under my breath so that the teacher will not hear: “Suck up.”
– For food. Every day. No shame
– Yes….might I add (in the beautiful words said by SNL cast members): “Suck it Trebek. Suck it long. Suck it hard.”.  🙂
– Dear Most High Effin Artist of the Universe (let the sucking up commence), I wholeheartedly celebrate the topic of caramel for the Artist Kitchen.  Although chocolate has many virtues, I have always had deepest affection for the sugar, cream and butter confection.  I think it’s nectar from the gods, and in the hands of such a virtuoso as yourself, it will be nothing short of a masterpiece.  If I were to be humbly allowed to partake of such a finely crafted sweet, I would be moved to the depth of my soul.
May you hear the angels sing around you as you create!
(EFFin Artist likes this comment)…
–  wait,wait wait, my email wasn’t working and I just realized I missed the whole topic of caramel yesterday. I also see people taking credit for suggesting this caramel extravaganza but I happen to remember sending several emails before anyone else about the need for caramel. I also sent sample pictures for the effin artist to be inspired by. Clearly I am this weeks effin winner…
– Yes, you may have suggested the caramel extravaganza, however the excuse of a down computer is a bit weak, don’t you think?  I think this train has already left the station, sweetheart.
And so it goes in Effin Artist land. You have to come strong if you want the surprise prize at week’s end.
Finally, as always, to unsubscribe to these emails I’d suggest naming a star after EffinArtist and wish upon it.

News from the EffinArtist test kitchen

We start with an interesting commentary on contemporary life. Just last month pumpkins were as ubiquitous as hair on my back. Now the produce guy tells me there are none in stock. Ten days before the biggest pumpkin holiday of the year and a major grocery has nary a single pumpkin. This just shows how far removed our “food” culture is from actual food. The demand for carving and tossing food is more important that actually eating it.

It makes me more serious about the new ethos that says if you aren’t willing to do what it takes to obtain your food, you shouldn’t eat it. Granted, I just had a cow sent to the slaughterhouse … see photo below… (he looks a little pissed if you ask me, but then again, wouldn’t you be..?)

Dinner

and while someone else did the honors of execution and hanging and cutting, I made up my mind that I WOULD do it. In fact, next year, I’ll likely ask to find a butcher I can be somewhat more in the process. Likewise, I don’t enjoy tearing the dingy off crabs, but I did it. By the way, my steer — I call him “Dinner” –is now hanging. Dinner came in about 200 pounds overweight (typical a cow in our family would be overweight… but I guess in cow speak its a good thing).

Anyway, before I dive into the pumpkin stories of the day, a thought… speaking of the hairs on my back: My bride did me the favor of shearing me the other day. At my feet was a pile of wool. How is human wool different from sheep’s wool? This seems like a renewable resource that should have a market. Reduce, reuse, recycle and restore, right? So… The Effin Artist Italian Wool Company?

OK… on to the kitchen!  Don’t worry. Know.. wait I mean NO (big difference!) shearing takes place in the kitchen.

This week we have THREE pumpkin projects:

The first, a test pie in preparation for Thanksgiving is already underway…

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This is a beauty. We are going to make a few minor tweaks for the holidays, but this particular combination of pie and filling, culled from the ranks of pie genius, is divine. My biggest complain about pumpkin pie is its too sweet. Not this, full of complex flavors like ginger, cinnamon, and flaky crust. The whipped cream provides the sweetness and can be dolled out by the individual. Our holiday guests will get the chance to chime in, so expect reader reviews soon. We’ve found in person reviews to be a bit kinder than the cyber-kind… not sure what that it is, but my friend told me my recent photo mad me look ‘intimidating,” which he says will scare off publishers. Maybe that has something to do with it. As for scaring publishers, I told him. “You want me to look like a punk? I ain’t no punk.” He said I need to recognize my audience and environment has changed of late. I’m considering that. But I digress.

Project two is our very own invention: a pumpkin empenada. Typically these are sweet, like brown sugar pumpkin turnovers. But my sugar buzz from buttermilk week lingers like a bad hangover, so I’m moving this into the savory realm. Ours will be filled with meat and herbs to offset the sweetness of the brown sugar and pumpkin mix. Stay tuned.

Project three is a return to our foundational elusive artistry: Chocolate, which is the damn point of this whole thing when I’m not chasing after the next shiny thing like a meth addict in the throws of a big one. This will be a pumpkin chocolate truffle.

A fourth bonus project could be in the offing, but we’ll see.

Let the Pumpkin Games Begin! 

To UNSUBSCRIBE call out to the universe for cosmic assistance… what’s that?… oh the universe just called back. She said “no.”