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Good Food Festival!

March 21st, 2013

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A lot of good things happening in the food world my friends. Here is a little teaser of what we saw and helped documenting at the Good Food Festival, an amazing event evolving serious talks, connecting amazing people, producers and consumers who care for a better food system. Enjoy!

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Hi all, a briefly but significant recap of this past month and some exciting things coming up. First, check out the pictures of the very first Urban Livestock Expo, happened last February 16 in Chicago. I was thrilled to watch, learn and help documenting the event presented by the Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA), Chicago Chicken EnthusiastsAngelic Organics Learning Center and Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance.

The expo gathered many representatives of urban livestock groups with the purpose to teach and guide people on raising animals responsibly in the city. Advocates of chickens, bees, goats and rabbits groups brought out topics like quality care, food supplies, manure management, and healthy and good habits with the goal to “foster the health and well being of animals and people living together in the city, to highlight livestock as part of an integrated ecological urban lifestyle, and to increase local food security – starting in our backyards”.

If you have any interest just check the links above, I am sure each of these groups will be prompt to help answering your questions. Or, you can still get to know better some of these organizations and meet a bunch of other food enthusiast, farmers and Chicago chefs at the Good Food Festival & Conference.

The event will be opened Thursday 14 with a financial conference followed by the Trade Show, School Food and Policy Summit on Friday and the Good Food Festival on Saturday. If you want to transform the way you eat and live, that’s the opportunity.

Now, speaking on food security, an amazing and remarkable course, “An Introduction to the U.S. Food System: Perspectives from Public Health” offered online for free by the John Hopkins University just came to an end this past week. You sure will hear more about what I have learned from these classes but if you have any interest, it is still time to watch the videos; they are available through March 30.

Even if you are outside the US, still, it is a valid insight on the modern food system and how food production practices and what we choose to eat impacts the world in which we live in all levels! Let’s eat responsibly!

Kaza Magazine March Issue!

March 6th, 2013

A nice write up and a recipe featured in a gourmet session of an architecture and interior design magazine, the Kaza Magazine in Brazil!   So sweet! You can also check the recipe here!

Two embarrassing confessions to make today, I burned an entire bag of microwave popcorn and this recipe for banana muffin comes from a Food Network show.

In my opinion, there are no excuses or forgiveness for the first one. How can a person be so relapsed to the point of burning microwave popcorn? I am still blushed, what makes me want to change the subject and go to the second one, the Food Network Channel.

I used to watch it a lot, back when Food Network was actually a food channel and not a pile of reality shows, one after another. Watching the shows has helped me a lot with my English, my cooking vocabulary was the first one to expand and I it still makes me really happy when my husband, fluent English speaker, turns to me asking for the name of certain fruit or ingredient.

Nowadays, IF I have time – which almost never happens – I will take a peak at one or two afternoon shows but the competitions and reality shows, I rather keep distance.  And I am sorry if you like, I am just being honest here, I can’t stand all that noise and drama.

But this recipe is one of the good things that came from there; it is an adaptation of Giada’s Banana Muffin with Mascarpone Cream Frosting and it worked so beautifully well on the first time that I just decided to stick with it forever – unless you convince me you have a better one.

I made very subtle changes; first I added some nuts (chocolate chips go well too!). Second, the recipe was cut in half because 18 muffins are just too much for my family. Besides, I always ended up having two super ripe bananas in my basket instead of 4. But cutting it exactly in half would require one egg and a half, which does not make sense to me so, use two entire eggs as I do. For the frosting, just use regular and more accessible cream cheese with a touch of honey. It will give you 8 small mini-banana breads, 9 muffins or, if you prefer, 1 big loaf of banana bread.

 

Ingredients

Muffins:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
½  teaspoon baking soda
½  teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, peeled and coarsely mashed

½ cup toasted walnuts or pecans

Frosting:

½ cup cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons of honey

 

1. Line 9 muffin cups or 8 mini-loaf pans with paper liners.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl to blend. Beat together sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir in the banana.  Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.

3. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Bake the muffins on the middle rack until the tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with no crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a rack and cool slightly. The muffins may be eaten warm or cooled completely and frosted.

4. To frost the cupcakes: mix by hand cream cheese and honey until well combined. Spread the frosting over the muffins. Sprinkle with extra pecans.

*For a loaf of banana bread, spray a 4×8 inch loaf pan with cooking spray and bake for 45 minutes.

Food Workers

February 20th, 2013

Didn’t have time to prepare something special for Valentines but I did go out to eat, one of the things I like the most. Everyone does right?

Well, when you go out, do you pay attention to the people who is behind the food we eat? (And I am not talking here about the well known chef who barely touches the pots). Do you ever pay attention to their faces? Do you have any idea about all the hard work behind your dinner plate? Do you even consider there is a bunch people working while you are having a feast and that these same people might never be able to have the same kind of party?

Tough and annoying subject, I know. But this week I came across this article by Dr. Megan Clayton, from the Center for a Livable Future and it keeps punching me in the face. In my short journey working in restaurants I attested so many unfair situations and didn’t get chance to do much. The reality is the major part of the employees is forced to conform or lose their jobs instead. The media pictures a lovely scenery on the culinary world but the truth is the brutal force that runs the industry is composed by people who doesn’t have option other than to be there, people who doesn’t dream on pursuing a career inside of a restaurant just because for them this is underemployment. They just dream one day they will be free.

Here in the US, Food Industry employs over 10 million workers but unfortunately it is also the lowest-paying employer in America. Of course even in this troubled economy there are owners that still treat their employees fairly, but the overwhelming reality is that many workers still face issues such as wage theft, health and safety risks, lack of access to benefits, race and gender discrimination, poverty and such. Brazil is not different and I don’t believe, even being away for almost five years now, things have changed there.

This is a serious concern but fortunately, as consumers I believe we can still be doing something. We have a strong voice and the power to make the best choices. Here are some links might help you take part:

The ROC Diners Guide is an app (http://rocunited.org/dinersguide/) where you can search restaurants by criteria such as paid sick days, advancement opportunities, and living wage. It currently includes cities like Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, & Washington DC.

http://thewelcometable.net/ : a website where you can find real stories of real workers and get connected with a food workers, advocates and enthusiasts who wish to “act in support of a food system that is more responsible, safe and just”.

 



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