All Posts By Food Network Kitchens

Paging Captain Obvious of the Obvious Brigade

by in View All Posts, July 31st, 2009

Blight or Blossom End Rot?

by in In Season, July 30th, 2009

tomato-blight-2

Thank you to the clever reader who discovered that the “blight” on Miriam’s tomatoes was not in fact late blight, but blossom end rot. Our colleague and fellow gardener Derek Flynn concurred, sending us to the photos of blight here and here, which confirm that late blight starts at the stem and works its way down, while blossom end rot shows up at the bottom of the tomato. Upon further inspection, Miriam also noted that her plants lacked the white powdery spores and brown spots on the leaves that are common symptoms of late blight.

We’re sorry if we misled you–we’re passionate and protective gardeners (and cooks), not botanists–but we want to set the record straight in case we sent you into a premature panic. The good news is, most experts report that while you have to forgo the fruit you find with blossom end rot, it doesn’t spread or infect the plant itself, and the same plant, given proper irrigation and healthy soil, may produce perfectly healthy tomatoes later in the season.

CONTINUE READING

It Came From The Library: Index Edition

by in News, July 29th, 2009

The first in an occasional ‘from the Library’ series wherein statistics caught in our weekly troll of the food media are offered up in highly digestible, if occasionally provocative, bits.

Number of national chain grocery stores in Detroit: 0

Percentage of total antibiotics used in the United States that is fed to healthy chickens, pigs and cattle: 70

Approximate annual weight of these antibiotics: 24 million lbs

Estimated total Americans spend on weight-loss products per year: $35 billion

Percent increase in American obesity rates between 1998 and 2006: 37

Percent by which the medical expenses of an obese American exceeds that of normal-weight Americans: 42

Estimated medical spending on obesity-related conditions in the U.S. in 2008: $147 billion

Percent of all medical spending that figure represents: 10

Estimated increase in the number of Americans suffering from gout in the last 30 years: 100%

Estimated increase in the number of calories the average American consumes per day over the last 20 years: 250

Estimated weight loss if the average American substituted water for sweetened beverages: 15 lbs

Estimated 10-year revenue from a 10% sales tax on fattening foods as defined by a national standard recently adopted by Great Britain: $522 billion

Estimated 10-year cost of healthcare reform: $1 trillion

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

Summer Blight

by in In Season, July 23rd, 2009

Monday morning, I began to write about the collection of tomatoes starting to ripen in my garden, ranging from vibrant yellow beauties the shape and size of gumballs to tiny green striated torpedoes and deep purple-maroon monsters with more crevices than an elephant’s trunk.

My writing was stopped short when our sous chef and fellow gardener Miriam showed up at my desk with news of the late blight fungus that is rapidly spreading throughout tomato plants in the northeast and Mid-Atlantic and likely to hit home gardens hard. The fungus, which is also found and carried in potatoes (think Irish potato famine of the mid-19th century), is sometimes found in small amounts in August and September, but this outbreak is on a scale rarely seen by plant pathologists and agricultural experts.

Although the fungus has been around for centuries, this outbreak is thought to have started in mass-market outdoor and gardening stores. Since Miriam and I buy most of our tomato plants from heirloom producers at the farmers’ market, we thought we might be safe.

Over the next few days, we gathered around every news and gardening report, filtering through the news that that for organic gardeners (like us), there is no known cure or prevention except extracting the plants and disposing of them (in the garbage, not compost). Fungicides can help prevent the fungus from spreading, but that’s an option many aren’t willing to make.  And as an organic gardener in a community garden that lives by that commitment, my own choice is limited.

We all went home, inspected our tomatoes, coddled them, and picked and cherished every healthy ripe tomato straight from the vine. We held our breath and hoped for hot sunny days (reported to kill late blight), exchanged worried glances during the rain, and promised that we’d continue to buy tomatoes from the farmer’s market, even as prices doubled, to support those that are quickly losing their crops.

Two days later, Miriam came in with an almost-ripe orange and yellow striped tomato wearing all the signs of blight. We stood in a quiet circle, inspecting her tomato, and patting her on the back, as if to say “we’re sorry this happened to you.” To lighten the mood, we joked about giving Miriam’s tomato a proper burial, and offered to sit shiva for her crop. But the truth is, the blight is no joke, least of all for the hundreds of farmers whose living depends on it — evidence that the many principles of sustainability, most primarily biodiversity, are wise ones. Planting large varieties of any plant in any garden or farm is the best defense against total crop failure.

Wherever your tomato plants came from, and however many varieties you’ve planted, I sincerely hope they will not be affected by the blight, and that you don’t give up on gardening if they do. And I hope just as fiercely that you’ll keep eating tomatoes, keep buying tomatoes, and keep our farmers (and tomatoes) in business for years and years to come.

Sarah Copeland, Recipe Developer and Good Food Gardens spokesperson

This

by in View All Posts, July 22nd, 2009

Zucchinimandering

by in View All Posts, July 20th, 2009

Far be it from me to get involved in other food media institutions’ test kitchen power struggles, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my close friend (and college roommate) Andrea Albin is currently battling for zucchini supremacy over on the Gourmet website. Video can’t be embedded, but click here to see it.

Voting is here. While I’m not saying you necessarily have to vote for Andrea, a vote for Andrea is a vote for bacon and tequila, and really, how can you argue with either?

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

Blood and Iron II

by in View All Posts, July 16th, 2009

Oh, Otto, you’ve done it again:

YouTube Preview Image

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Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

Seeing Green

by in In Season, July 16th, 2009

Year after year, cucumbers have been the most dependable and prolific plants in my garden, making them an easy sell for me each spring. This year, I got so carried away with tomatoes and peppers, I almost forgot them, until my friends from Teich Garden Systems (who build our Good Food Gardens) gave me an heirloom pickling cucumber plant. I almost forgot them again until this morning, when I found the plant cleverly creeping up the legs of an old-cast-iron trellis, with two chubby cucumbers hanging heavily from its vines. These first cucumbers mark the glorious beginning of weeks upon weeks of green, as well as meals and menus inspired by their vibrant green skin.

Best picked when evenly green, firm and crisp, cucumbers should be eaten as soon after picking as possible, when their cells are bursting with water. It’s that crisp edge that makes them so refreshing raw, dipped in hummus, tossed into a Greek salad, or sliced (any size, skin on) with lemons in ice water, a spa trick that’s easy to adopt at home.

They are also the inspiration behind three of my favorite summer foods: chilled cucumber soup; pickles; and tzatziki, a garlicky yogurt-based cucumber dip that’s perfect with pita and as a topping for lamb burgers, gyros, or kebabs.

And if you happen to have a garden bursting with green, or a good farmers’ market nearby, take the color and run with it with a summer supper made of tzatziki with grilled flatbread, pesto stuffed into grilled arctic char, a summer squash carpaccio, and a peppermint and lime herb refresher. Bon Appetit!

Sarah Copeland, Recipe Developer and Good Food Gardens spokesperson

P.S. If you didn’t get your cucumber plants in yet, it’s okay to plant some now for a fall harvest. Cucumbers grow quickly and like lots of space, sun, and water, so give them room to grow either out (at least two feet apart) or up (they work well when trellised or allowed to creep up a link fence) and keep the soil moist.

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