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Omnivore Food Blog By Suzanne Podhaizer

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December 2007

December 23, 2007

Surprisingly, I'm Very Busy...

I was posting daily for a while there, but haven't done so this week...between putting out two issues of the paper and trying to prepare for xmas, it's been pretty hectic. I'll be posting my holiday menu as soon as I've figured out what it's going to be, and should have some recipes for you after the holidays (maybe they'll be useful next year)!

In other news, I joined Facebook, and it's much more fun (read: addictive) than I'd expected. After all, I'm now part of groups like "New Englanders Against Fake Maple Syrup" and "The Great State of Vermont Will Not Apologize For It's Cheese." So if you're on Facebook, come say hi!

Hope you're all baking cookies and drinking eggnog!

December 20, 2007

Happy Birthday to Kismet (It's a Party!)

The lovely ladies at Kismet are throwing a party tomorrow, beginning at 5 p.m., to celebrate their 1 year anniversary. In addition to Alanna and Crystal's tapas-style treats and yummy drinks, there will be a bunch of cool food producers handing out samples of their products.

The full text  of their press release is below...

"After one full year and nearly 8000 meals served, Kismet of 207 Barre street, Montpelier, Vermont, will roll out the red carpet and throw their very own Birthday Bash. Kismet Owners, Alanna Dorf and Crystal Maderia, plan to transform the tiny breakfast/brunch space, for one evening, to mark the first anniversary of their new restaurant and successful catering business.

“ This party gives us an opportunity to connect with our restaurant customers, neighbors, and catering clients alike. Many people still don’t know we’re here and many have tried either our restaurant menu or have experienced our catering, but few have sampled both”, Says Crystal Maderia. “We have a great thing happening here,” says Alanna Dorf, in regards to their local foods menu and personal relationships with their customers and employees, “and it’s exciting every time a person comes in and says ’wow!, I’ve never been here before.’ We made it through our first year, and it’s time to celebrate with our regulars while opening our doors to people who have been wanting to check out what we’re all about.”

Restaurant regulars and catering clients will enjoy samplings of Kismet favorites, like their dandelion lattes, hot chocolate, and even a variety of their house made butters to take home, as well as an eclectic assortment of creative tapas that Kismet will feature on their catering menu. In addition, guests will be able to meet with and sample products from other local food producers featured on the kismet menu. Nutty Stef’s Granola, La Strada Bakery, Red Hen Bakery, Awake Coffee, Jasper Hill cheese company, Butterworks Farm, Winding Brook Farm, Vermont Foods Distributors, Patchwork Farm and Bakery, and local farmers will be joining the kismet staff in celebrating the business’s first year.

“We never really had a ‘Grand Opening’,” say’s Crystal, “maybe because our opening has been more gradual- like a slow unfolding…As we get more comfortable, more used to this whole endeavor, we open up more and more while at the same time learning how to maintain our own personal bounderies and the well-being of the business. The mark of our first year is really big for us. We both have given so much to this business, and the business has given to us both in such an intimate way. We are ready to celebrate that, and can do so with a confidence we didn’t have a year ago.”

“December 21 marks the shortest and darkest day of the year” remarks Alanna in regards to their one year anniversary and the date of their open house celebration, “and is a perfect example of what we do here. We are constantly trying to make more out of less, make things brighter, to find balance and to stay connected to what is happening in the world around us”. The red carpet will be rolled out on December 21, and doors will open at 5:00 pm.

December 18, 2007

Recipe: Jack Woods' Enhanced Eggnog

This is not really a recipe for eggnog: It's a recipe for something you can do with eggnog, provided that you want to get as drunk as possible without consuming more than your share of the creamy stuff. I haven't tried this (I prefer the eggnog to the booze, myself), but for those of you who like to walk on the wild side, here it is, courtesy of my co-worker, Rick Woods, and his father.

Dad's Eggnog

1 quart eggnog
6 1/2 oz. light or dark rum
3 1/4 oz. Myers dark rum
6 1/2 oz. brandy
1/2 pint vanilla ice cream
freshly grated nutmeg to taste


-- OR --

1 gallon eggnog
1 fifth of light or dark rum
1/2 fifth of Myers dark rum
1 fifth of brandy
1 qt. vanilla ice cream
Freshly grated nutmeg


December 17, 2007

Hunting and the Localvore (Locavore) Movement

This morning I came across an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times about whether or not hunting and fishing fit into the localvore lifestyle. It's something I've been thinking about a bunch since our hunting issue. Here's the NYT piece, and a few related links.

~ NYT: Locavore, Get Your Gun by Steve Rinella
~ Maine Hunting Today: Is Hunting and Consuming Game Now Being Considered Eco-Friendly? by Tom Remington
~ National Geographic: Hunters: For Love of the Land by Robert M. Poole
~ Times Argus: Posted Land, Development, Hamper Vermont Hunters by Andrew Nemethy

I'm sure there are many others...I'll keep an eye out.

December 16, 2007

The Oddest FDA Warning I've Seen...

It's 2:30 a.m. and I can't sleep, so I'm trolling my Google Reader for interesting stuff with which to amuse myself. What have I found so far? An unusual FDA warning:

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to use 3.5   oz. packages of Swad brand sindoor, an orange   or red powder used in some traditional South Asian Pacific ceremonies that   is applied to the face or scalp...Although the   product was not intended to be sold for food use, its labeling is confusing   and implies that it may be used as food.  The Illinois Department of Public   Health has confirmed two cases of lead poisoning in consumers who used the   product as an ingredient in home cooked meals.  Other uses of the product, including as a cosmetic, can also be dangerous due to the high lead levels."

What did the misleading label say? "SWAD BEST TASTE IN TOWN SINDOOR",  "FOR RECIPE IDEAS VISIT OUR WEBSITE." I wonder if the consumers who came down with lead poisoning were Indians who assumed the product was food-safe because of its traditional uses, or Americans who assumed that the pretty red powder was a food dye because of the "recipe ideas" wording on the package?

I couldn't find sindoor on Swad's website, but I did find a bunch of instant Indian meals, and evidence that someone who works at the company is able to clearly communicate about their products in descriptive English. One bit of copy reads: "It’s the age-old dilemma. The pressures of the day and the commitments of job and family leave precious little time for the delicate preparations of the traditional Indian meal...It’s for this exact predicament that Raja Foods presents the “Easy Entertain” solution. With the robust line of sumptuous offerings from the SWAD production line, you can virtually eliminate the prep time for a stirringly wholesome meal from start to finish. Guests are satisfied, palates are fulfilled, and the day is saved."

December 15, 2007

Holiday Gifts on Etsy

Ever wanted a crocheted fondue set or or a button featuring a dancing rasher of bacon? You can find these wacky items and a whole lot more on, an e-store for crafters (and buyers of crafts, of course).

I think I heard of Etsy once upon a time from a friend whose mother makes jewelry, but I didn't realize until yesterday how much stuff there is for a foodies. Once I did, and started searching in earnest, I realized how user friendly Etsy is. There are numerous ways to find items you'll be interested in  -- even a really unusual "search by color" option.

I was going to look through everything tagged "food" and list my favorites, but who am I kidding...I don't have time to go through all 341 pages!

Have fun shopping!

December 14, 2007

"Christmas Cocoa" on The Gilded Fork

Have a favorite holiday foodie tradition? Unsurprisingly, I've got a bunch. One is planning a really dramatic Christmas dinner for my family, starting to cook at dawn and realizing at 7 p.m. that the food won't be ready until 11. And everyone's really hungry. That's a fun one. Despite that, though, Christmas is definitely my favorite day of the year, followed closely (in both senses) by my birthday two days later.

Before I got the job at Seven Days, I wrote a handful of sensual little "Gastronomic Meditations" and book reviews for a website called The Gilded Fork, now part of the Culinary Media Network. One of them, called "Christmas Cocoa," was about just such a tradition.

Thanks to my RSS reader, I noticed yesterday that they've re-posted the article. It was fun to read something I wrote before I worked as a journalist, and nice that they remembered it.

Even if you don't feel like delving into my relationship with chocolate, if you're a fan of sexy food photography, creative recipes and gastronomically themed podcasts, you should definitely give their website a look. 

Skinny Pancake DOES Have Vegan Crêpe Batter!

Img_3426After reading my Skinny Pancake "Taste Test," crêperie owner Benjy Adler got in touch to let me know that the SP has a vegan crêpe batter that isn't currently listed on the menu, but is available nonetheless.

How do they make something that is typically based on eggs, butter and milk vegan? By substituting chickpea flour and olive oil for the animal products. You can order the ethical option without an increase in price. Although there's no design-your-own-crêpe option on the menu, folks with dietary restrictions can swap fillings to meet their needs.  "We try to be very accommodating," Benjy explains.

Benjy also let me know that the SP recently introduced a buckwheat batter, which is not only traditional, but is also safe for folks with celiac (also spelled coeliac) disease.

December 13, 2007

Recipe: Pumpkin and Fennel Frittata

On many mornings I get up bright 'n' early and work from home for a few hours before heading to the office. There's something nice about blogging and answering e-mails while wearing my pajamas and eating breakfast.

My sweetie didn't have to work yesterday, so while I typed away he made me a really creative omelet using stuff from our Pete's Greens localvore share (I adore the Pete's Greens localvore share, by the way). Because D. works in the restaurant industry, he's great at flipping omelets in the air and catching them. I'm deathly afraid of missing and making a mess, so I prefer to prepare frittata instead. Here's my take on his creation.

Pumpkin and Fennel Frittata

Pumpkin or other squash
Fennel bulbs
Milk, Cream or Soymilk

Preheat oven to broil.

Peel the squash. Use a vegetable peeler if the skin is thin and a paring knife if it is thick. Wash the fennel. Make thin slices of fennel and pumpkin -- around the same number of slices each -- stopping when you have enough to cover an omelet of the size you plan to make.

Melt butter, and when it sizzles, lay the slices of pumpkin and fennel in the butter. Cook, turning once, until tender. The temperature should be high enough to caramelize the pumpkin a bit. Remove from heat.

If you're using the same pan (it's gotta be broiler-safe for the next step), wash it eggs in a pan that has already been used makes them more likely to stick. If not, melt butter in a new pan. Whisk eggs and milk together. When the butter sizzles, pour in the eggs. After the bottom layer has set, lift it up with a rubber spatula and allow the  remaining egg to run underneath. Continue doing this, moving around the edge of the pan, until the top moves sluggishly.

Place the pumpkin and fennel slices atop the egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Run the pan under the broiler until the top of the frittata is cooked and puffy, which doesn't take very long.  Serve.

Variations that we haven't tried, but which sound as if they'd be good:

Top the eggs with goat cheese before broiling
Add a small amount of nutmeg to the eggs before cooking
Cook onions, shallots or garlic alongside the vegetables
Brown some pancetta, cook the pumpkin and fennel in said fat, crumble pancetta on top before serving
Top with slivers of prosciutto before serving
Vegan: Cook the pumpkin and fennel in olive oil, put on top of a tofu scram

December 12, 2007

Garrett Oliver at The Daily Planet

Img_3915_3If there is anybody who deserves the title "American  Beer God," it's probably Garrett Oliver. He's the brewmaster and Vice President of New York's Brooklyn Brewery, sits on beer-judging panels and authored The Brewmaster's Table, an authoritative tome on pairing beer and food. Last Sunday, I was lucky enough to hear him speak at the Daily Planet's third beer and food pairing (they're doing them regularly, these days).


I first heard Oliver give a talk during a beer 'n' cheese pairing at
the American Cheese Society conference in Burlington last summer. There, I was introduced to the argument that beer is actually a better accompaniment to food than wine is. Why? Beer-o-philes say that that caramelized, roast-y flavors that come from malt and the bitter, bright notes courtesy of hops, match up well with the flavors in foods that we eat (and that the yeasty, fruity qualities of wine don't do so quite as well). Plus, the "scrubbing bubbles," as Oliver jokingly referred to them, help to refresh the palate.

Img_3919Last Sunday, after attendees milled around sipping Brooklyn Local 1 -- an ale that is re-fermented in the bottle (like Champagne) -- and sampling a trio of Vermont cheeses -- Vermont Ayr from Crawford Family Farm, Constant Bliss from Jasper Hill Farm and Bonne Bouche from Vermont Butter & Cheese , we settled at our tables to listen to Oliver talk a bit about beer, with the wit of a culinary comedian. His first point: That the "beer" produced in the United States before the craft brewing movement doesn't even qualify as beer. "It's not made of the stuff that beer is made of. It's not made how beer is made," he opined. Same thing goes for the real bread vs. the supermarket stuff, and American "cheese" that is only 80% milk. "Cheese is 100% milk," said Oliver, "Kraft Singles are plastic."

Img_3923And then it was time for the meal. Here's the menu:

~ Tuna tartare with sesame lemongrass dressing; Lager   

~ Spicy gazpacho, guacamole and a baked-chicken taquito; East India Pale Ale

~ Moroccan Lamb Tagine; Brown Ale

~ Ancho Chile Dusted Molten Chocolate Cake; Black Chocolate Stout

The tagine was my favorite dish that evening -- it was complex, meaty and sweet -- and I'm a huge fan of the Local 1 and the Brown Ale, but my favorite pairing was the spicy gazpacho with the I.P.A. The "hot" soup and the citrus-y bitterness of the beer worked really well together.

I'm definitely sold on this beer pairing thing.

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