July 7, 2008

Scrapin' Up the Bits... Humble Pie Style

I understand that my blog moniker is a bit… well, highly presumptuous. I am by no measure what Tony Bourdain or any other chef would consider a cook. I use it more in a dual sense: that I aspire to become highly skilled in the kitchen, and, in the more mundane sense, that, because I work out of my house, I don’t have to spend time commuting and, thus, do most of the cooking in our household.

And I cook a lot. But it’s not always good.

I’ve had several misfires lately. Wahoo steaks partly mangled on a ridiculously hot Weber grill while on vacation. The scallops that never got seared because I didn’t let the cast-iron pan get hot enough, accompanied by a grainy cauliflower puree. And, last night, a “spatchcock” chicken that was a tad undercooked -- well, the breasts -- because I pulled it from the grill too early. (In my defense, it was a big-a#$ chicken! Probably not the best choice for our first spatchcock. And, it should be noted, my wife did a wonderful job preparing the flattened out chicken.)

The only saving grace was the fantastic, remarkably tender grass-fed T-bones -- from Deanna and David McMaken’s Rose Ridge Organic Beef in Waynesburg, Ohio – I made on Saturday night. My ego needed that.

Meanwhile, a few other notable items….

What was that I said the other day, while discussing the new PGH program, about how there will be more food recalls? Another one might be coming pretty quickly…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is broadening its testing of food beyond tomatoes, including looking at imported products, to find the source of a salmonella outbreak in the United States, a spokesman said on Monday. …

Although tomatoes are still the "lead suspect," cilantro, jalapeno peppers and Serrano peppers have been added as possible culprits, according to FDA spokesman Mike Herndon.

And another reminder that corn as a fuel source is highly susceptible to weather perturbations.

Analysts said it's still too early to tell how much the Midwest crops have been damaged, but they will be keeping a close watch on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the government agency continues to assess the crop land.

A large loss of acreage could slash U.S. corn production and push next season's year-end stocks to the lowest level since just after World War II, some analysts said. If bad weather continues in July and August, corn prices could rise to $10 a bushel, said Shawn Hackett, president of agriculture futures brokerage Hackett Financial Advisors.

Speaking of corn, Food & Wine, meanwhile, finds some organic or otherwise sustainably produced spirits, including…

Prairie Organic Vodka A clean, creamy vodka produced from organic corn grown by a Minnesota farmers’ co-op. The leftover cobs are converted to biofuel that powers distillation ($26).

And, finally, Mental Masala at the Ethicurean has the goods on Wal-Mart’s going all locavore. Part of the reason: reduce liability issues in the event of a recall, as I suggested the other day in the aforementioned PGH program post.

The big question, however, is whether this is the real deal, working with small farmers to procure fresh fruits and veg, or whether the company will resort to its usual, um, hardball tactics that many would argue do more harm than good.


Julie Long said...

I hadn't heard about PGH, so thanks for filling me in. I'm skeptical but hopeful that Walmart's local produce push will be a win-win.

I'm a newbie Locavore -- after reading The Omnivore's Dilemma (I'm currently enjoying Animal, Vegetable, Miracle). This is my first season with Harvest Valley Farm's CSA. Kathy at the farm pointed me to your blog. Great content!

Fillippelli the Cook said...

Thanks. I'm overdue for a new post, but family and work responsibilities are keeping me from doing so. Have several on the backburner.

Kathy mentioned that you're a writer. If you don't mind, send me an email at cbfillippelli@gmail.com with some details about your work, because I'm interested in a blogging partner.