Ironic isn't it? Just a few years ago we were mindlessly living the high-life, innocently eating highly-processed, highly-commercialized, highly-packaged foods. We thought as long as we chose low-fat foods -we could gorge ourselves on whatever those little elves passed off as "food" and we knew we were eating H.E.A.L.T.H.Y. All the packaged food got mom out of the kitchen and into life right? We didn't have to spend all day making spaghetti sauce-we just had to pop open a jar of Ragu, throw a foil-wrapped loaf of garlic bread- straight from the frozen-food aisle- into the oven, quick-wash a head of iceberg lettuce and we were off- on to more exciting things. The problem is, as we moved away from eating recipes imagined by Great American chefs like our grandmother or great-grandmother, using foods she grew in her garden or bought from a local farmer, we got all caught up in the hype. Now, don' t get me wrong, some things have changed for the better. I've heard you shouldn't eat anything your grandmother would not recognize as food but that would mean Kiwi Fruit Pomegranates, and Greek Yogurt would be off limits to this Michigan girl. Never-the-less we need to stop eating foods from Chefs like Betty Crocker (bless her heart) and Duncan Hines and eat more from Jamie Oliver and Alice Waters.
Slow Food, local foods, local sourcing, clean food, clean eating, fair food- all names for the movement away from the processed and packaged and back to what we used to know as "food". Michael Pollan has written extensively about the way food in America is processed and this knowledge is not for the faint of heart. The documentary Food Inc, scared me to death. Not only do we refine the crap out of everything, we ship foods to hell and back because it is cheaper than processing them locally. Cheaper not smarter. The small farmer is barely hanging on because the "factory" farm is taking over. But with these humongous farms come huge waste lagoons that not only smell so bad you can't get within miles of one, but the lagoons are spilling into our rivers and streams, poisoning us all in an effort to provide the huge amount of cheap food necessary to feed the world as our population continues to grow. But remember that cheaper isn't always better and you get what you pay for.
The good news is that people are getting more in touch with knowing where their food comes from. This means staying local, using local farmer's markets or joining a Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA), and finding local-sourcing butchers and restaurants. There is a a big movement happening in many cities that calls for ordinances that allow the homeowner to keep a few chickens in her back yard, something Martha Stewart has done for years (and yes I know she has a chicken sitter to care for her coop). One of my local grocery stores prominently display "Made in Michigan" tags on products. The Kalamazoo People's Food Co-op is planning a huge new store and Food Dance restaurant offers "farm to table" dining experiences- the chef meets the dinners at the farm, shows everybody the fields and discusses the meal and everybody meets later for the dinner. These are all steps in the right direction but the food industry is so complex and far too many Americas are apathetic to the problem.
|Grapes and Sugar|
|A Lug of Grapes|
|Waiting for their bath|
The color of the juice as soon as it is taken out of the water bath is already beautiful. If you have ever canned something you know that the lid must give a little "pop" as the juice cools and the seal forms. I love hearing that little "pop".
My kit makes both types of cheese but mozzarella is a tad more labor intensive- what with milking the buffalo and all- so I made ricotta.
|All done. Now the wait….|
Just 1/2 gallon of whole milk (my favorite) and 10 minutes and you have fresh cheese. Heat the milk, critic acid and salt over medium heat, stirring frequently and you will see the curd start to separate. The cheese is done when it reaches the right temperature.