Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dandelions are Good Food

I made a great raw dandelion salad the other day for a job I was working on. I cleaned and chopped a bunch of fresh organic dandelions and dressed them with olive oil, lemon juice from one lemon, a splash of maple syrup and a dash of sea salt and then just before serving, I sliced up a beautiful plum and tossed it all together. It was tart and sweet and absolutely delicious! The only thing I might add next time would be pine nuts or walnuts for a little more texture and depth of flavor. Maggie Gyllenhaal was the talent on the job and she liked it so much, she ate it for lunch!

After work, I went to the opening of the new Whole Foods market around the corner from my apartment. I was so amazed at how many people were there! For a neighborhood filled with tall apartment buildings, it's remarkably quiet up here in the Upper West 90's of Manhattan and even Central Park doesn't seem to get that crowded. Maybe it's just rare to have an event that draws everyone out at once.

I told someone that the produce section looked like Tiffany's, each radish was presented like rubies, each scallion like emeralds. Lush and beckoning, they invited cooking up a fresh meal if you could make it past the first floor of prepared foods. It makes sense to have the prepared foods within easy shopping reach on the first floor and much as I like to make as much of my food as possible, at the end of a long day, it's nice to have a healthy meal already made for me. I had some Organic Swiss Chard at home I'd gotten at the farmer's market so I picked up some quinoa and chick peas from the hot salad bar and did a hybrid of home cooked and prepared food. I'm going to try to shop at both Whole Foods and the local Health Food Stores and Farmer's Market as much as I can to support them all.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cucumber dip

To make life a little more interesting for my craft service jobs, I pick themes to structure the day around. Today I'm doing Middle Eastern, which can span the Mediterranean to include Israel, Greece, Turkey I'm pretty indiscriminate. Most of these cultures draw on the same flavors so they overlap nicely. I just made a cucumber yogurt dip that is pretty fantastic if I do say so myself. I didn't measure but threw in the following ingredients to a small container of Breakstone's Sour Cream: Lots of Dried Dill, Garlic Powder, A dash of Cumin, a pinch of salt, one small finely chopped Cucumber, juice from half a lemon and about a tablespoon and a half of crumbled feta. Yum!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inspirations

It's been a long time since I've blogged and the time has passed so quickly, two whole seasons have jumped by! It's been about six months since my last posting, I can't believe it!

I've been keeping busy working and then recovering from working on various TV commercials and a music video that snuck in two weeks ago, and I've been having a great time, except for the heat which has been fine up until now.

There are a few movies which have had a great impact and provided inspiration for me that I'd like to share. The first is "Fresh" produced and directed by a woman who has become a hero and friend to me, Ana Sofia Joanes. It's a positive, uplifting documentary on Organic farming and the small farmers that began the Organic farming movement before it was even named as such by the FDA. Joel Salatin, one of the featured farmers in this film and the other documentary that's made a huge impact on me and others this summer, "Food, Inc" , is like a rock star to me. He's such a dynamic, vibrant man that seems deeply satisfied and earnest in his mission of raising animals and food the way that it should be, in a bio-dynamic, sustainable way. He grazes cows on the property which then fertilizes the soil and let's the chickens and pigs run free as well and he raises and slaughters them on a small scale as opposed to large factory farms that view these animals and the people who work there as a commodity and not living beings. His quote on his website for Polyface Farms is: "We are in the redemption business: healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture."

A friend said "Food, Inc" was the scariest movie he's seen and I have to agree, I was in tears through some of the factory farm scenes and it wasn't just the inhumane treatment of the animals, it was the way the corporations have a lock on the farmers and animal farmers so that they can't survive without them. They keep them in debt and sue them if they get out of line or try to revert to old fashioned methods of farming that don't use their copyrighted chemicals and seeds. It's a frightening thought that we've been eating genetically modified food for years now and really don't have any idea on what the genetic impact is going to be on our future generations, and on our environment and we should start doing something about it...

The third inspirational film I've seen this summer was Julie and Julia, which was uplifting and funny and filled with delicious looking food! I have to own this movie to watch whenever my creative spirits are flagging. Afterward, my friends and I went to Cafe Luxembourg on the Upper Westside to fulfill my need for bearnaise sauce! I had the Creekstone Farms free range Hangar Steak with sauteed Rapini and Potatoes Confit. My friend Theo really hit the winner with a French Onion Soup and an appetizer portion of Corn Ravioli with Summer Truffles that I couldn't wait to get my fork into and while he wasn't looking, I soaked up all the good leftover bits with my bread when he was done! Sasha had the biggest, fluffy and juiciest Omelette I've ever seen with a side of the sauteed Rapini and we all shared a Chilled Melon Soup with a Watermelon Granite for dessert. It was perfect!

I'm going shopping now for a shoot this week, I think I'll do a Mexican inspired day for the pre-light, with quesadillas, guacamole and cilantro corn chicken salad, Italian for the first shoot day with Balsamic roasted vegetables and lots of mozzarella and tomatoes, maybe a bread salad...and Middle Eastern for the second shoot day. I'm so excited about making Good Food! I'll try keep you posted on recipes and menus for the day