Category: Media

Who wants to slave in the kitchen in the morning? Not me. But I’m not happy with sugary cereal either. A few days ago, I came across this simple Asian-inspired savory breakfast preparation from New York Times’ Mark Bittman. I’ve tried it four times or so with different whole grains and I’m glad to say that this recipe works, especially if you LOVE green onions like I do.

Mark Bittman's savory breakfast made with bulgur

Bulgur Breakfast à la Mark Bittman

Bittman adds scallions, sesame oil and soy sauce to whole grains to make this non-greasy delightful savory breakfast cereal. When I first saw Bittman’s demo, I feared that the dish may be one-note because of the soy and the lack of a spice but the stars of the dish ended up being the scallions and the whole grains. Also, when I am hungry, I add some scrambled egg or diced avocado to the cereal!

The only note of caution I would add is that if you don’t add enough soy, the cereal is a little dry and bland. I usually add a little soy, mix, taste and add some more depending on how much I need.

Watch Bittman weave his magic with wheat berries:

In 2007, the gorgeous British actor Clive Owen starred in an over-the-top action flick Shoot Em’ Up opposite the gorgeous Italian model Monica Bellucci. The film was terrible but it had its moments like the one where Owen’s carrot-chewing character Smith (reminds you of Bugs Bunny?) shoves a carrot through a goon’s face and says, “Eat your vegetables!” Of course there’s more to the scene than just that, but you’ll have to watch the video to see why it is cringe-worthy and funny at the same time:

Cooking being a routine activity, we sometimes forget that we aren’t in a chemistry lab following a formula. We also forget how therapeutic and sensual cooking can be when viewed as creation vs. construction. MasterChef Season 3 contestant Christine Ha, a 32-year-old Vietnamese American blind home cook reminds us that the sense of smell, touch, taste and sound are not just integral but also imperative to crafting angelic cuisine.

Christine, who suffers from neuromyelitis optica (NMO) – an autoimmune disorder that affects the optic nerves and spinal cord — wowed the judges with her catfish braised in a claypot and won herself a spot on the show as a contestant. Commenting on the fish she cooked in caramel, coconut soda, shallots, garlic and fish sauce, Joe Bastianich, a judge on the show, writes in his blog —

Her’s was the dish I was most curious to taste – and she nailed it! I mean she really nailed it. Does this mean she’ll be able to manage her way around the MasterChef kitchen? That I’m not so sure of, but she’s certainly earned the right to try like everyone else, and is one to watch as we move ahead.”

Turns out Christine is managing her way around the MasterChef kitchen just fine! In a recent episode one of the contestants, with an advantage gained by coming out on top in a challenge, tried to trip her up by giving her live crab when he could give her canned crab. Though she was apprehensive about handling the live animal and pierced herself while cleaning the cooked crab, she created a spectacular crab caviche cocktail that won her the round. You go girl!

Check out her crab creation and poetic apple pie she created in a pressure test in a previous episode.

Chef Paula Deen and her sons Jamie and Bobby

For years, we have watched the flirty, gandmotherly chef Paula Deen whip up her fried chicken, red velvet cakes and other Southern delicasies on Food Network. While the unhealthiness of  butter and cream cheese was hidden under the massacarades of “love” and “authenticity”, Deen herself was hiding the fact that she had Type 2 diabetes.

Why Deen hid it is easy to guess — she didn’t want her TV show and personal image to loose appeal. But now that she is out with her secret, she and her sons have found a way to milk that too. Deen, 64, just signed an endorsement deal with Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceutical company that makes Victoza, an noninsulin injectable diabetes medication. Her sons Bobby and Jamie have also been roped in to spearhead a public relations campaign for the company.

Bobby Deen also has a new healthful-cooking show Not My Mama’s Meals that began last month. He sticks to his Southern influence but gives the dishes a healthy twist. Some examples being “No Fry” Apple Pies, Lighter Shrimp and Polenta, and Whole Wheat Pie Crust.

Anthony Bourdain’s Response:

Travel show host and chef Anthony Bourdain once called Paula Deen the most dangerous person in America. And now, following her annuncement, he tweeted, “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.”

Deen may have been clogging the nation’s arteries, but Bourdain hasn’t been kind to the nation’s livers. His extreme love of alcohol and red meat, and his anti-vegetarian rants are scary given the cult following that he has! I love my sanagria and mojitos, and am by no means a vegetarian. But both Bourdain and Deen need to understand that emphasising moderation is the responsible thing to do.

Rule # 4: If You’re Not Hungry Enough to Eat an Apple, Then You’re Probably Not Hungry

There are 64 other simple yet very useful rules where the golden words above come from. Author Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules” now also comes in an illustrated version, tanks to artist Maira Kalman.

Have a sneak peak:

Lean Streak Rating: 3 / 5 stars GOOD

How To Cook Your Life, a documentary by Doris Dörrie, follows Edward Espe Brown, a Zen priest and cook, as he teaches students at San Francisco’s Tassajara Mountain Center and Austria’s Scheibbs Buddhist Center to cook and better themselves by developing the right attitude towards food.

Brown likens the mind of the ideal cook to a kind and joyful grandparent who dotes on his / her grand kids and has a nurturing attitude towards them. The documentary also features other Tassajara cooks who say that cooking teaches them to be aware and attentive. The resident bread-maker sites the example of dough that behaves differently at different temperatures. By forcing the cook to be attentive to it’s temperament, in the a way, “the food is cooking us”, the cooks conclude.

The documentary touches upon many principals central to Zen Buddhism such as mindfulness, respect for living creatures, anger-management and acceptance of both good and bad. To the cooks at Tassajara, preparing food is a form of meditation.

While the documentary is inspiring, it can seem preachy at times. Also, none of the philosophies discussed are that novel or radical. But what is extremely interesting is the achievement of self-realization by using food as a vehicle.

The documentary is bound to make people look at our food culture differently. It is also bound to inspire people to express love for their families and friends by cooking them something.

About Edward Espe Brown: Brown is a Zen teacher who lives in Fairfax, California. He was ordained a Zen priest by Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki who named him “Jusan Kainei” or “Longevity Mountain, Peaceful Sea”. Brown conducts meditation retreats and classes throughout the United States  and is a co-founder of the Greens Restaurant in San Francisco.

Brown has authored several books including The Tassajara Bread Book which is considered by many to be the Bible of bread-making.

Check out the trailer:

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Highlights from Michael Pollan’s TED talk:

1. Looking at the world from other species’ points of view is the cure for the disease of human self-importance.

2. While we have consciousness, tool-making, language… they (plants) have bio-chemistry. And they have perfected that to a degree far beyond we can imagine.

3. And their (plants’) complexity, sophistication is something to really marvel at….We went into it (the Human Genome Project) thinking 40-50,000 human genes but, we came out with only 23,000. Just to give you grounds for comparison, rice – 35,000.

4. What I learned is that we are all now being manipulated by corn…. The talk you heard about ethanol earlier today to me is the final triumph of corn over good sense. It is part of corn’s scheme for world domination. You will see the amount of corn planted this year will be dramatically up from last year and there will be that much more habitat because we decided ethanol will help us.

5. If you begin to take account of other species, take account of the soil,… we can take the food we need from the earth and actually heel the earth in the process. This is a way to reanimate the world….When we really feel Darwin’s insights  in our bones, the things we can do with nothing more than these ideas is something to be very hopeful about!

Watch the entire talk:

The Standard American Diet, heavy on animal products and processed foods, is clogging the nation’s arteries and pushing up the health care costs. Both in the interest of economic sanity and national health, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman suggests that the government should bump up the tax on unhealthy food and encourage the consumption of healthy foods by subsidizing their costs.

In an article published in the New York Times on June 23, 2011, Bittman says that by making seasonal greens, vegetables, fruits and legumes more accessible, the federal government would fulfill a key responsibility with respect to public health.

To read Bittman’s article, click on this link.


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