All Posts By Food Network Kitchen

It Came From The Library 11: Food Crisis

by in News, June 19th, 2009

We’re hearing a whole lot less about a global food crisis these days than we were a year ago. No longer do we read week-in-week-out of food riots in the developing world or grain shortages or skyrocketing inflation. Publishers are printing fewer books with apocalyptic titles like ‘The End of Food,’ ‘Stuffed and Starved,’ and ‘The End of the Line.’ The spectre of Malthusian collapse looms a little less large.

But lest you thought the global food crisis was over, several recent films and articles have come along to remind us that we’re not out of the woods yet. Far, very far, from it. The world is still hot, crowded, and hungry, and getting more so. Demand is growing faster than supply; agricultural productivity is flattening; and ‘the world is in desperate need of a green revolution, a greener revolution.’ A must-read National Geographic article does a nice job of walking through the debates taking place over just what shape this ‘greener revolution’ will take.

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

Beans Talk

by in In Season, June 18th, 2009

Mid-June in the garden is a thriving time, when flowering tomato, pepper and squash plants give signs of good things to come. In the meantime, I’m thankful for an early harvest that provided handfuls of radishes for summer salads — and, just this week, lots of little beans in every size and shape. English peas, sugar snaps, and haricots verts  quickly blanched in salted water and shocked in ice water make a perfect side for any lunch or dinner. I like them with (or even inside) an omelet, or tossed with some fruity olive oil, cannellini beans, radishes, and snipped herbs for a protein-packed picnic salad.

Here are a few other fast & fabulous bean recipes for your summer table:

Sarah Copeland, Recipe Developer and Good Food Gardens spokesperson

Snack Food and Simulation

by in View All Posts, June 16th, 2009

courtesy Marlene Ramirez-Cancio
(image courtesy Marlene Ramirez-Cancio)


Continuing once again with the food pareidolia thing, a friend of Jonathan‘s snapped this picture over the weekend. While it’s hard to tell whether the popcorn is simulating something else or whether something else is simulating popcorn, I’m hoping for the sake of food safety that it’s the latter.* Which I guess would make it reverse pareidolia, or a simulacra of pareidolia? My head hurts.

(*That said, I have actually consumed an actual popcorn ball precisely once, about 10 years ago, at a bake sale outside a somewhat creepy concert, so for all I know they could all be like this, so grain of salt, people.)

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

This is Bananas

by in View All Posts, June 15th, 2009

(Ok, actually it’s beef.) And, though I’m grateful to El Pollo Loco (caution, sound) for digging through the 37-page ingredient document to reveal the hidden chickencow, gotta wonder what the motives were there, especially with this comment from EPL’s president and chief exec: “I can assure you that you won’t find any beef in El Pollo Loco’s fresh, natural, citrus-marinated chicken cooked over an open flame right in front of our guests.”

I mean, hey, always good to know there’s no beef in the chicken. (Or, for that matter, the fries.) And hey, it’s only been 152 years since the Sepoy Mutiny; there’s still plenty of time to learn a lesson from that.

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

It Came From The Library 10: Street Eats

by in News, June 12th, 2009

Canning, kitchen gardening, gourmet comfort food: There’s hardly a food trend these days that doesn’t owe something to the recession. This month’s most attention-grabbing trend, street eats, is no exception.

From Austin to San Francisco to NYC to Portland to D.C. to Seattle, across the country a new generation of food trucks and carts is emerging and expanding notions of what street eating can be in the process. The trend is drawing strength from a number of factors: cheap prices, of course; but also low start-up costs; and, not least of all, a large and growing pool of the newly jobless (many of them chefs) looking for entrepreneurial opportunity.

For these and other would-be street vendors, street food presents itself as a tradition-bound corner of the food service industry ripe for experimentation and ideally-suited to thriving in an economic downturn.

As a result, the new wave sets many of today’s prevailing food world trends-e.g. ethical eating, gourmet sophistication, cupcakes (enough already!)-on four wheels. Increasingly taco and kebab trucks find themselves competing for curbside real estate with crème brulee carts, cupcake trucks, mobile purveyors of escargot-on-a-stick and the like.

For their part, chefs and restaurateurs have seized on trucks and carts as a marketing tool for their restaurants.

Twitter has proven a major enabler of the trend. As Serious Eats points out, in mobile vendors, who use the micro-blogging service to relay info to customers, Twitter almost seems to have found its raison d’etre.

Ironically, even as street food gains cachet in some urban settings (and increasingly shows up in the world of fine dining) taco trucks find themselves under assault across the nation, beset by increasingly restrictive ordinances designed to curb their operation. All of which serves as a worthwhile reminder of just how race- and class-specific this street food trend really is.

Fortunately here in New York, the rights and interests of the city’s 10,000+ street vendors are fiercely defended through the heroic work of the Urban Justice Center and its Street Vendor Project. And it’s probably fair to say that here in NYC, the Project, through its efforts to raise public awareness about vendors, and in particular through its wildly successful (and wildly awesome) Vendy Awards (full disclosure: our own Rupa Bhattacharya is a longtime Vendy backer, volunteer, and fiend) has been a major motivating force behind the current trend.

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

Inner Farmer

by in In Season, June 11th, 2009

As a kid, I looked forward to three things about my summer trips to my grandparents’ 160-acre Iowa farm: hiding out with my favorite book in the abandoned chicken coop, letting the calves suck my thumb, and feeding piglet runts from a baby bottle. Other than that, I thought everything about farm life was utterly uncool. The infamous swine smell, the coffee cans of rendered pork fat, and early-morning chores. Those things gave me the heebie-jeebies. I never dreamed that the habits of my grandparents, like collecting kitchen scraps for compost or putting up green beans for the winter, would be ones that I adopt, embrace, even exalt.

So I’ve grown up a little. And embraced my farm heritage. And experienced my first recession. It seems the rest of the country is right there with me—we’ve all grown up a little, and are finally seeing farming for what it really is—challenging, necessary and beautiful.

It doesn’t hurt that farmers, food journalists and chefs have laid the groundwork of making farm-to-table the chicest catch-phrase of the decade. So it won’t hurt for me to use that phrase just one more time—farm-to-table starts with you, in your own backyard (or fire escape, or windowsill). You don’t have to own overalls or piglets to embrace your inner farmer. Just a pot, some dirt, and a few seeds. And go ahead and collect your kitchen scraps while you’re at it. Ask a neighbor or a farmer at your local market if you can add them to their compost pile, or better yet, start your own.

Watch for more tips on how to get started when our second episode in our Good Food Gardens series airs this Friday.

Sarah Copeland, Recipe Developer and Good Food Gardens spokesperson

Poppin' Fresh

by in View All Posts, June 10th, 2009

Here at FN, we’re all in favor of home-made popcorn, but you probably shouldn’t be trying this at home. And no, I have no idea why he’s not wearing a shirt.

YouTube Preview Image

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Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

Feed Them Well

by in In Season, June 4th, 2009

I hate to be dismal and risk ruining my Pollyanna reputation, but with a record 32.5 million Americans on food stamps, and more American families facing hunger for the first time in their lives, food insecurity is a very real part of the American fabric.

The Victory gardens of the early 1940s, inspired by wartime need and promoted by a Department of Agriculture campaign, proved that many folks are willing to dig in and become a part of the solution through growing their own food.

The government is now at it again, with a Victory garden on the White House lawn and a People’s Garden on USDA soil, soil that was blacktop just a few months ago. Yesterday, in our nation’s capital, US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack lent his own green thumb to support our fourth Good Food Garden, at the SEED School, a pioneering charter school in DC. He led the students, our new Good Food Ambassadors, in planting cucumbers, squash, eggplant and artichokes, among dozens of other plants, and joined us in tasting some of the varieties of melons, tomatoes and herbs that the students will grow.

One of our Good Food Garden Ambassadors with her prized zucchini plant
One of our Good Food Garden Ambassadors with her prized zucchini plant

While Good Food Gardens are intended to teach and inspire interest in where food comes from, give students valuable skills and growing methods, and encourage students to eat a larger variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, their larger message is that anyone, anywhere, can grow their own food, becoming part of Secretary Vilsack and President Obama’s goal to end childhood hunger by 2015. The Food Network and Share Our Strength share their mission.

He left us with these words:

“The first directive President Obama gave me when I came into office was this: Feed our children; and feed them well.”

We hear you, Mr. President.

Check out Goodfoodfun.com for more about the Good Food Gardens, and a few ideas how you can feed your children well too.

Sarah Copeland, Recipe Developer and Good Food Gardens Spokesperson

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