Saturday, January 24, 2004

Cooking from Escoffier is a bit of a challenge since no temp or times are mentioned.

CĂ´tes de Porc a la Flamande (pork chops and apples)

Season both sides of the chops and brown them on both sides in fat or butter (mmm bacon fat). Peel and slice eating apples allowing 3oz per porkchop. I used enough apples for 6 chops since the chops were extremely thick. Throw the apples in an earthenware dish (or dutch oven). Put the half-cooked chops on top and drizzle with leftover cooking fat. Complete the cooking in the oven. "Serve the dish as it stands."

I cooked at 325 for 30 minutes+ (I lost track of time so it was good that the chops were very thick).

At least I didn't need to flip back and forth to sub-recipes for this one. Everyone loved it; the chops were nice and juicy.

Because it isn't about just me.

That is the answer to so many questions. Questions I ask and questions asked of me.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

You are probably asking "Mzungu, do talk about anything other than food?" The answer is that of course I think and talk about other things!

For instance: Safeway and a living wage

Our local Safeway is being picketed as part of a nationwide protest about wage negotiations. Safeway and their stores in CA, including Vons, are negotiating work contracts and want to cut benefits and wages. The company claims that they must cut costs to be able to compete with Wal*Mart and other box stores that are getting into the grocery business. Under the present contracts, full time grocery workers get full health benefits and a good wage that increases with years served. Grocery workers who work full-time are part of the middle class. Wal*Mart pays its workers considerably less and offers no paid health benefits for most workers.

I have been discussing this whole issue with my children, my SO, my coworkers, my religious leaders and community, pretty much everyone I'm in contact with.

If my SO and I both worked fulltime at Wal*MArt, we could not live in our current home or our previous home (2 bedrooms for 5 people). We could not afford two cars. We could not afford vacations. Almost one full salary would go toward health insurance.

If Safeway needs to compete with box groceries, why not cut their profit which is considerable instead of the worker's benefits? Why not? Because it is less obvious than raising grocery prices and less painful to the bottom line.

If the workers accept the new contract, even though the current workers retain their benefits and wage levels there are no guarantees that those workers will be kept on the job. What incentive is there to keeping current employees when new workers can be hired for much lower wages and lower benefit costs? Would management really work to edge current employees out? Of course they would; they care about the money not the people and they show that by making this move in the first place. Loss of health beneifts and lowered wage levels drop grocery workers to the edge of poverty.

In many situations I don't think Unions have a role anymmore but then I see situations like this and I think that if the workers didn't have the unions to rally them, living conditions would plummet and industry would treat people like shit.

It is easy for me to stop shopping at Safeway. Within a few miles of my home there are 2 Safeways, 2 Giants, a Sam's, a Shopper's Food Warehouse, and a Super Fresh; just a few more miles away are a Costco and My Organic Market (M.O.M.). The local Wal*MArt does not sell groceries. However, my old neighbourhood (where many people do not have cars) has only two grocery stores within walking distance and they are both Safeways (not very nice stores either! I used to hate sifting through the produce looking for something that wasn't moldy). Even using public transport or a car in the city there are only a handful of grocery stores and the majority are Safeways. There are a few Whole Food markets but they are expensive and an hour by public transport each way. So what choices do these neighbourhoods have?

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I've been a persistant blogger but I could not get anything to publish during November and December.

What did you miss? There was my vent about Martha Stewart's "Easy" truffle recipe that was published in the paper while I was visiting my mother. Martha says truffles are easy and then gives a recipe with several complicated (and unnecessary) steps. I mean really! what is easy about adding corn syrup? It's an extra step and dilutes the chocolate.

My Easy Truffles that are easier and taste better than Martha's:

Single malt truffles

1/2 cup cream
12 oz chocolate, in bits (I use bittersweet)
4 tbs. butter, in bits, at room temp
1/4 cup single malt

Bring cream to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until smooth. Stir in butter until blended. Stir in scotch.

Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. (or immediately pour over pound cake or ice cream)

Scoop into small balls. Roll in cocoa.

Options: replace the whiskey with chambord and add 1/2 cup of melted seedless raspberry jam.

There were other vents and aha moments. Perhaps they will stir in me with the power of the truffles and I'll try them again now that I can post and publish.
We got a lovely dutch oven as a late Christmas present so yesterday I looked for recipes that would use it. We had all the ingredients for beef bourguignon.

Dice 1/2 a pound of bacon and saute until crips. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Brown 3 lbs of beef (cubed) in the remaining bacon fat. Stir in 1 cup of chopped onions. Sprinkle meat and onions with 3 Tb flour and salt and pepper. Cook over med high heat for 5 minutes while stirring. Add 3 cups of stock, 3 cups of Burgandy, 1/2 cup of tomato sauce or 2Tb. tomato paster, 1 Tb. chopped fresh rosemary, and the bacon. Bring to a boil, cover, and place in 350 degree oven. Cook about 2 hours.

Cut and cook 2 cups of carrots, 2 cups of pearl onions, and saute 1/2 pound of mushrooms.

Place pan on stovetop, stir in vegetables and 1Tb. red currant jelly. Heat through and serve.

Tonight: Pumpkin soup and shrimp on a bed of leeks served with couscous.