Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Whoever thought we'd have to argue about what we should eat?

As someone who has bounced around the scale from Vegan to Carnivorous Beast and everything in between I find it really interesting how much evidence there is pointing to veganism as being a healthy, sustainable way of life. Well of course it is! What else COULD it be? Veganism is a sort of truncated way of saying "the foraging for nuts and berries diet." If you can do it though, you should. Here's why (courtesy Ezra Klein and The Washington Post).

Dont care to read the whole artice? Ok, well, it's great and you should, but I'll summarize. Eating less meat is good for the earth because its more efficient for farmers to grow grain and feed it to people than for the same grain to be fed to cows who are then eaten by people. Not to mention all those cow farts (burps are apparently a bigger problem, says the article) contribute mightily to greenhouse gasses.

What's that? You love bacon-wrapped chicken-fried steak too much to give up meat. I hear that argument. Personally I like the irony in the old addage "I'd love to be a vegetarian, but I'd like to keep my strength." I find this to be true to a point. If you aren't the kind of person who can eat sticks and berries (quite literally) and be satisfied with that as a meal, you tend to replace a lot of meat in meals with, well, processed crap. That's not good for the environment nor is it good for your waistline.

Right now you're thinking "wait, he's crossed his own tracks...what's going on here?" My point(s) is that all of these ideas have substantial validity and in order to get people (especially American people) to take their medicine, we might have to stick it inside a piece of ham (it always worked with the dogs.) Cookbook author, tv personality, and notorious gastronome Mark Bitman is actually advocating a sort of responsible eating called "Vegan before 6."

Ok, did you read that. Well, you have to. Go back. I'll wait.

Ok, so it's quite an interesting idea Bitty has. And it's totally workable for most people. The truth is that it's OK (for the environment, however ethically dubious) to eat meat, as long as it's in moderation. Moderation being something we do poorly in this country because most people feel that it's close to unconstitutional.

Of course, there are lots of solutions to this problem that no one is talking about. One simple thought is to support small family farms by buying locally. Better food, closer to you--seems like a no brainer. Of course, all of those cow factories have more or less pushed the little guy out of the market, but that's a whole other post.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Goodbye, Merce

"The highest purpose is to have no purpose at all. This puts one in accord with nature, in her manner of operation. " -John Cage

"We need not destroy the past. It is gone." -John Cage

One of the greatest artists and philosophers who has ever lived has died. I'd like to write something here that would even begin to express how mixed up I feel right now, and how lost, and how sad, and how small. I can't though, because when it comes to summing up something of this scale, I'm a cricket climbing Everest. Wholly insignificant.

My only consolation is this:

I just know they're together somewhere. Conspiring. John is smoking while Merce doodles. Bob sips his drink and the ice cubes chime on the inside of the glass and that's music. And there's laughter, and thought, and joy, and it's all art.

(Photo via magazine--dont miss this wonderful article about the competetive dialogue between Rauschenberg and Warhol by Charlie Finch.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The best part of living in an historic place...

is when you realize that there are dead people all around you. Sometimes figuratively and other times quite literally. It’s the feeling you get when you’re in an old cathedral and your tour guide tells you there are peole entombed in the wall. Check out this post from A Very Grave Blog.

If you think about it, this makes total sense. I remember years ago on a visit to London marveling with a kind of skin crawling fascination at Green Park, which had originated as a plague pit (a place for the bodies of plague victims...if you needed clarification on that one) but later came to be a burial ground for lepers. Once burials stopped the place became grown over with grass and trees and since no one wanted to go digging in order “to construct a proper park” it got the name Green Park due to the (mostly) lack of flowers. It’s a very lovely lawn, complete with those famous beach chairs.

The same goes for NYC. Hundreds of thousands of people were buried under what is now Washington Square Park, Madison Park, and Bryant Park (see potter’s field). There’s something to consider when someone tells you the price of their new apartment with the great view of a cemetery…

Thursday, July 2, 2009

When I'm stressed, I cook

It's true. I think I learned it from my mother. There's definitely an underlying "food will fix it" mentality in my family. Also "booze will fix it," but that's another post.

Because I am such an avid cook I've now taken it upon myself to cook everything I would normally buy pre-made. I really have come to hate prepackaged food and somewhere along the line I've picked up the mantra that "there's nothing you can buy that's better than what you can make at home." Whether its true or not, (and it isn't...have you had the brownies at Pret?) I've developed my own recipe for protein bars--and they're delicious. If you need a quick fix snack for after the gym or working in the yard, try them out.

You will need:
2 cups Oatmeal (rolled oats, the normal Quaker kind)
A pot of coffee (make at least 4 cups, you might get sleepy)
1-2 ripe bananas
Whey Protein Powder
1 whole egg (beaten)
4 egg whites
½ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Dash of vanilla extract

Chocolate chips
Peanut butter

I start with 2 cups of regular oatmeal and soften it in a bowl by adding about 1/5 cup of coffee. Once the oatmeal has absorbed the coffee I mash it with a fork until there are no more big oat pieces (not good eats). After that round of mashing I add 1-2 ripe bananas (however many you have lying around—this is integral to keeping them moist) and resume mashing, until the whole thing is more or less homogenized. Then I add 6-8 scoops of chocolate whey protein (any protein powder will do). Mix this all together and thin with a little more coffee to keep everything lubricated (your aiming for something close to brownie batter in consistency, if it’s too thin add more oatmeal or protein powder). Add 1 beaten egg, a dash of vanilla extract, ½ tsp of baking powder (or soda…I don’t really know the difference but they’re both for leavening) and a pinch of salt. Mix well. At this point, feel free to add chocolate chips, nuts, peanut butter, raisins or whatever else you have lying around. I prefer half a bag of mini chocolate chips (for better chocolate flavor dispersion) and some crushed walnuts (for that omega 3 stuff). Mix it all up. Good stuff.

In a separate bowl beat 4 egg whites until they are fluffy and you’ve got soft peaks forming. Gently fold this together with your batter (this step can be omitted if you don’t have an electric mixer, or if your too busy, or if you just don’t care enough to, but I think it helps make them lighter and fluffier, which makes it more like a delicious baked-good. Do not, however, omit the egg whites entirely. Just add them and stir, ok?)

Pour the batter into a greased 13x9 pan (after I grease it, I throw some more oatmeal onto it, and shake it around to evenly cover the bottom and sides , which may or may not prevent sticking. Either way, it looks nice) and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before cutting and coaxing out of the pan (usually involves a little flexible metal spatula). Enjoy.