Sunday, March 22, 2009

White House Garden: Spring 2009

White House Press Photo

What a fabulous idea! I am so in love this inspiring idea to plant a garden on the White House Lawn. I love Michelle Obama's grace and leadership in using the garden to make a broad statement about food and food policy. From the diagram, the planned garden looks like a beauty, with a kaleidoscope of wonderful fruits and vegetables. (OK, I'm a little jealous!)

Of course there are nayasyers (NYT's Room for Debate below has several points of view), but really this is a low-cost (about $200), potentially high-yield project in terms of both actual food and national attention to the crisis of unhealthy eating and unhealthy land-use. It send a message of how to think differently about food and better ways to use your grassy lawn.
“The power of Michelle Obama and the garden can create a very powerful message about eating healthy and more delicious food. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it could translate into real change.”
Dan Barber, an owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, an organic restaurant in Pocantico Hills, N.Y
The White House garden represents a simple step, but it's a great way to engage kids to think about better food choices. It shows kids and adults that growing food is like magic, but not a mystery. Even just knowing that local food is possible, even in the most unlikely places, is important and empowering. As the community gardeners say, "You grow girl!"

The White House Blog: Spring garden planting
Obamas Prepare to Plant a Vegetable Garden at the White House. Marian Burros, NYT 3.19.09
Washington's Not-so-Secret Garden, Room for Debate, NYT 3.21.09

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Learning from the Past: The Good Cook Series and others

I love the NYTimes new feature Recipe Redux which researches old recipes from their archives and then offers a new twist or modern revision. Often the old recipes, sometimes from 1970, other times from the 1800's, seem to be better, or at least just as interesting as the new and updated one.

There is something comforting about cooking from an old recipe, be it a family one or one from a newspaper. Calorie and cholesterol debates aside, there is a reason some recipes get handed down and used again and again. They tend to be delicious, and moreover, reliable. I still find myself using the old James Beard and Julie Child books much more often than the pretty new books I ogled and splurged for at the Barnes & Noble.

In this vein, The Good Cook Series by Time Life Books also sounds intriguing, though they may be out-of-print and hard to find. Their step-by-step instructions and diagrams suggest a "Cook's Companion" type series from the pre-magazine subscription days. The techniques and tips you can learn from these old cookbooks are often worth the search.