next week’s dream team: food historian charlotte biltekoff visits, farmer paul atkinson chats

I’m pleased to announce the University of Oregon Center for the Study of Women in Society Food in the Field Research Interest Group Visiting Scholar Lecture for AY 13-14.  Dr. Charlotte Biltekoff, Assistant Professor, American Studies/Food Science and Technology at the University of California at Davis, will be speaking on her forthcoming book, Eating Right in America: The Cultural Politics of Dietary Health, on Friday, April 19, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. in Lillis 111. The talk is free and open to all.  Yes, parking is difficult near campus; sorry.

1304_Biltekoff_flyer_WEBDr. Biltekoff’s book is an important contribution to the field; it analyzes the relationship between moral campaigns and food reform movements in American history.  Trust me, this is a fascinating topic. Our breakfast cereal industry was founded on a thoroughly American mix of sexual abstinence, fresh air exercise, and commercial crop potential.  And that’s just the beginning.

And you may be interested to note that Dr. Biltekoff has served in leadership roles in the burgeoning Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at UC-Davis and the Association for the Study of Food and Society, so she’s a great person to chat with about the future of the field as well as the past.

We’ll be hearing more about the upcoming talk on Food for Thought on KLCC, Sunday at noon (PST) on 89.7FM in Eugene, or its sister stations all across Oregon, or live on the web.

img_5252And if that’s not enough to grab your attention, how about our other guest on this week’s show, farmer Paul Atkinson of Laughing Stock farm? YES!

Renowned on the West Coast for his pork (which is simply the best pork I’ve ever eaten, and everyone from Chez Panisse diners to The Atlantic’s Senior Editor Corby Kummer agrees) and famous on this blog for his work with friend Del Del Guercio making goat milk cheese and cured meats on the farm for local consumption (as in so-local-it-fell-into-my-mouth local), Farmer Paul will be in our studio!  He’ll chat about the other white meat, dairy farming, duck eggs, heritage squash, land use, curing caves, WWOOFing, and/or who knows what else with Ryan and me at noon.  This is a show that should not be missed.

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red chile sauce and farmers on the radio today at noon

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We eat bean-and-greens tacos about once a week at home, but because I always have fermented hot sauce or summer salsa hanging around in the refrigerator, I haven’t experimented much with all the peppers I dried last year.  When I saw an experimental recipe for dried pepper ferments in the fabulous preservation blog Well Preserved, I remembered that I (1) grew a bunch of Central American chiles this year instead of the Hungarian ones I’ve been growing for years; and (2) dried a bunch of ripe pasillas (which grow very well here, by the way) and other peppers that were languishing in my cupboard.

So red chile sauce it was.  Relying on a Diana Kennedy classic recipe, I knew I couldn’t buy fresh tomatoes at this point in the dead of winter, so I used up my last jar of canned tomato sauce, the frozen tomato sauce having been long depleted.  Because I wouldn’t be able to char the sauce as I’d char the skin of fresh tomatoes for more flavor, I decided to throw in a pretty little ice-cubed block of tomato paste that I managed to put up last fall.  It turns out the tomato paste is crucial for body in the salsa, so don’t omit, even if you’re using fresh tomatoes.  If you’re purchasing your tomato products, you might want to buy a can of tomato puree instead of diced tomatoes, because it’s thicker and sweeter.

I was less interested in authentic flavors than in just getting rid of my chiles, so an Ethiopian brown, scorchingly hot beriberi pepper and I’m sure a Hungarian pepper or two snuck in there.  You will probably be more discriminating.  Also, note that you won’t be able to get the silky smooth texture without a blender, so don’t even try it.  A good local bean for the tacos?  Brighstone, a hearty pinto-like bean, which is a new discovery by Adaptive Seeds/Open Oak Farm this year.

And if you’re interested in farming, Central America, or how things grow in places involving the word Willamette, you’ll most definitely want to check out our radio show, Food for Thought on KLCC Sunday at noon (PST) on 89.7FM in Eugene, or its sister stations in Oregon, or live on the web.  Boris and I are trying something new, an interview with farmer/musician Joshua James, who is performing songs from his new album, From the Top of Willamette Mountain, at Sam Bonds tonight.  We’ll also be joined by someone we’ve wanted to have on the show for a long time: Sarah Cantril, Executive Director of Huerto de la Familia, an agriculture and micro-business educational non-profit that teaches community integration, economic self-sufficiency, and organic farming skills to Latino families in Lane County.  Listen in or be square!

Red Chile Sauce

  • 6-8 medium-sized long dried peppers, such as guajillo, pasilla, or the like
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (top quality fresh or canned)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water (optional if your tomatoes are very juicy, or you’re using canned)
  • salt to taste

Toast peppers and sliced garlic, being careful not to let the peppers burn.  Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat, then add the dried peppers and garlic, pressing them down and turning them over every few seconds until the peppers can be crumbled and you can smell the toasted smell.

Remove from heat. Let peppers and garlic cool until easy to handle.

If you are using fresh tomatoes, char the skins over a gas burner or on the same hot cast-iron skillet, then peel off most of the blackened parts, before dicing.

Place tomatoes, tomato paste, and optional water in a blender.  Add garlic.  Remove stems and seeds from chiles, then crumble pepper shells into blender.  Blend for a few minutes on high, until the sauce is very integrated and smooth.  Add salt to taste.

Refrigerate and use within a few days on anything that could use a nice kick of red sauce.

fat girls and barn lights, what a lovely way to spend a weekend!

It’s that time again! Ryan and I will be interviewing the team from Eugene’s new bar/café, The Barn Light, and the marvelous Hanne Blank, self-proclaimed “proud fat girl,” exercise enthusiast, and author of The Unapologetic Fat Girl’s Guide to Exercise and Other Incendiary Acts. Join us Sunday at noon on KLCC or livestreaming on the web.

The team from The Barn Light — Dustin, Thomas, and Eric — are here to show downtown Eugene how it’s done.  The bar, located on Willamette across from Kesey Plaza, was designed with a particular attention to detail and quirkiness unusual in Eugene, and the menu for both cocktails and food features bold creations and interpretations of classics that actually taste good (also unusual in Eugene).  I’ll let them tell you more about it.

A79744B13BC94732873E169C918C9681Hanne Blank came to my attention many years ago because she has a strong voice and I’d always look forward to reading her daring, passionate recipes on a now defunct food listserv.  A historian and feminist activist, she has written books on big aspects of sexual history like virginity and heterosexuality, and relationship guides and erotica on big aspects of well, people.  You can see all of her books here.

As an unapologetic fat girl myself, I like her approach to exercise in the book we’ll be discussing on the show.  I’m not a big fan of self-help books, but I gave it a whirl because it was from this delightful writer who loves food and advocates health at every size, and I could really not care less if my ass looks fat in those jeans, and because I’ve been grumpily doing P/T since my car accident in June to rehab my knee.  Quite frankly, I could use an attitude adjustment, and perhaps you can too in this month of resolutions.

Hanne encourages readers to focus less on losing pounds, inches, or sizes, and instead invites us — yes, you; yes, ME! — to spend 100 days with her reaching the goal of a improving particular “body practice,” as she calls them.  In short, focus on one low-commitment act to increase your body’s motion every other day for 100 days.  That’s it.  No starvation, no shaming, just improving one area for a limited time as an experiment. Then you reevaluate and perhaps move on to another goal.

Ok, so what’s mine?  Well, as I said, my knee still hurts quite a bit.  The accident basically destroyed the top of my tibial plateau, and affected the nerves, tendons, and tissues in the immediate area, but also has created problems with numbness in my calf and foot, completely changed my balance and posture, exacerbating hip pain and lower back problems from an earlier injury.  I’m no longer limping except on stairs, which is good news, but I’d like to be limp-free. My goal is to tackle uneven surfaces up and down inclines (walking, biking, trail hiking, climbing stairs) for an hour or so every other day, to improve the strength in my quads and increase flexibility in my knees, ankles, and feet, all currently stiff and owie.  Easy, no?  We’ll see.

Learn more on Food for Thought on KLCC Sunday at noon (PST) on 89.7FM in Eugene, or its sister stations in Oregon, or live on the web.

crawfish and year-old eggnog: it’s christmas at food for thought!

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Never say we didn’t bring you anything unusual!  It’s going to be a fascinating show this week on our merry Food for Thought with Ryan et moi.  Ryan’s booked one of his longtime food heroes, erstwhile New Orleans restaurant critic and food writer Tom Fitzmorris of The New Orleans Menu, who wows us by hosting a food radio show not once a week for an hour like us, but six days a week for three hours daily!

And I’ve finally managed to corral our favorite bartender in the world, Jeffrey Morgenthaler.  Since leaving Eugene’s Bel Ami a handful of years ago, Jeff has met with great success in Portland, managing the bar at Clyde Common and traveling the world looking for new drink combinations.  Still blogging occasionally, he’s been featured in print all over the country for his famous eggnog and his barrel-aged cocktails, and has recently finished his first book and is opening a new venture, too.  Whew!

All this, more on my Amsterdam trip, Ryan’s dispatches from the front lines of Eugene holiday commerce, and more!  Listen in at Food for Thought on KLCC Sunday at noon (PST) on 89.7FM in Eugene, or its sister stations in Oregon, or live on the web.

By the way, if you’re thinking of the perfect Christmas gift for your local business, consider becoming an underwriter for our show!  We have a slate of wonderful guests in the upcoming weeks, including renowned authors Naomi Duguid, Paula Wolfert, and John T. Edge. For a few hundred bucks, you will get many months of exposure and your shop announced live on the show each week to a targeted group of listeners interested in buying local food.  Best deal in town!  Contact underwriting at klcc@klcc.org or 541-463-6005.