Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Drinking: Awesome Craft Beer!

Food not Bombs:
                The organization Food Not Bombs was started over 30 years ago. The organization has chapters in over 1,000 cities around the world. The basic motivation of this organization is to recover and share free vegan or vegetarian food with the public without restriction. Each group is independent and invites everyone to participate in making decisions for their local chapter using the consensus process. Food Not Bombs is dedicated to taking nonviolent direct action to change society so no one is forced to stand in line to eat at a soup kitchen expressing a commitment to the fact that food is a right and not a privilege. Food Not Bombs has three main principles. 1. The food is vegan and free to all. 2. We have no leaders and use the process of consensus to make decisions. 3. That Food Not Bombs is dedicated to nonviolent direct action towards creating a world free from domination, coercion and violence. 1 Food Not Bombs occupies an important place in modern society. My understand of the organization has them existing in response to the waste of industrial agriculture, the dominance of corporate control over our food system, and the modern resistance to sharing, talking, and the social nature of food.   

Brew Not Bombs:

Brew Not Bombs is a much smaller organizations with only a few major groups (Baltimore, Chicago and Los Angeles). The organization was built on the idea that individuals can create a free society based upon cooperation, self-sufficiency, and equality. Homebrewing offers an alternative to corporate products which are mass-produced, ecologically destructive, and generate large profits for the rich through worker exploitation. Brew Not Bombs provides a forum for free thought and creative activity in order to inspire others to take bake their lives and derail the capitalist treadmill that treats humans as mindless consuming robots. 2This organization exists as a response to the corporate dominance in all areas of our life, including luxury items.

Why the discrepancy between the popularity of these two organizations?

It seems to me that these two organizations are fundamentally based on the same principle. They highlight and attempt to resolve problems that emerge as a consequence of corporate dominance. Food Not Bombs recovers and shares food that would otherwise go to waste as a result of the inefficiencies in the modern food supply system. Brew Not Bombs acts in response to corporate control in all areas of our life. Is Brew Not Bombs fundamentally less popular because of the fact that this organization concerns a luxury item? Luxuries are an important part of being human and we should have real choice regarding our luxuries, and we should be able to imbibe in good beer! Of course, having access to healthy and nutritious food is an important part of being human. Perhaps Food Not Bombs can be viewed as a first wave movement that opposes corporate dominance and that the popularity of Brew Not Bombs will increase in the future?

                Another explanation for the discrepancy in the popularity of these two groups may be due to the different physical and skill requirements. Food Not Bombs requires very little equipment, a modern amount of time, and moderate cooking skills. Brew Not Bombs requires more specialized equipment, more time as most beer takes at least one month to brew, and a higher degree of specialized equipment. Additionally, radical communities have a tendency to have more straight edge individuals in their midst who would find Brew Not Bombs of little personal interest.

It is my view that Brew Not Bombs is equally as important as Food Not Bombs as we can resist corporate control in all areas of our life, including our luxury choices. For example, on my recent trip to Halifax I consumed only local liquid! Halifax is the city of music and drink! Rock Bottom’s Jacktar Stout is an amazing, complex, smooth concoction that soothes my soul.  The beers from Rogue’s Roost were amazing due to the specialization of the amount of gas pumped through the draught which resulted in some of the smoothest finishing beers we’ve tasted yet! The Garrison Brown was nutty, smooth, and packed with flavor. There are so many great beer makers in Halifax and for those that don’t imbibe?  Try Propeller’s Jamaican Ginger Beer or Garrison’s Chocolate Cannonball Soda.

                My point? Even if you don’t want to join a radical community like Brew Not Bombs we can all aim to avoid corporate control of our activities. Drink some good local beer. Support a local business. Watch an independent movie. Make your own cookies. Brew up some soda.   

                How do you avoid corporate control in your life?

                Do you have experience working with Food Not Bombs or Brew Not Bombs? What was your favorite part of that experience?

If this article has inspired you to help/eat/talk to Food Not Bombs look up your local chapter. Or start one!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Guest at Chomp

Read about some of my Halifax St. P's day adventure over at Chomp!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Guest: Jen on how she feeds her family!

My name is Jen and I use a food bank. Everyone says in unison, “Hi Jen!”
Wrong meeting. Wait, there are no meetings for this.
I'm not addicted to food or food banks. I'm not looking for a hand out or pity. I'm trying to feed my family nutritious food. It's a shame that very few in this country can afford the luxury of buying only the best for their families without batting an eye. It's even more deplorable that those who want for nothing feel that those who need things should only use the cheapest lowest grade food available in the name of saving their precious tax dollars.
I learned of Mother Hubbard's Cupboard when I moved to Bloomington in 2000. I had just graduated from college and had not been able to secure employment. Someone suggested I utilize their services. Full of pride, I declined. I soon found a job and forgot about this resource.
Until I found myself between jobs and underemployed. I couldn't pay my rent, utilities, and outrageous student loan bill and have enough money for anything beyond peanut butter and jelly. I was reluctant to shop at a food bank because I felt some amount of shame for having to use one. I mean, here I was—a college educated woman who went to school to be more self sufficient and I was really no better off than I was before attending school. Sure, my vocabulary had expanded but I was still getting my calorie intake from ramen noodles. I was also raised by a single mother and we were often on social services for help in spite of her working full-time. I remember being little and waiting in line for government cheese, rice, and dried milk. I recall a time or two being in a grocery store and my mom sneaking a luxury item under all of the generic food because she didn't want people thinking she was abusing her food stamps. Sigh. I was afraid that by shopping at a food bank, I was repeating a cycle.

While this self sacrifice seemed noble, the mentality of deprivation wasn't helping me eat well. I caved and went to shop. The line was huge and I felt a little embarrassment for having to stand there. I was amazed. Instead of a system of prepackaged boxes and check points for ID, there were smiling faces behind a table. I had someone show me what to do and was floored I got to choose my own food. It was a hopeful experience, something that made me feel a little less stressed.
So I volunteered for a year or so while I still used the services. It kept me busy and it allowed me to give back. Once I was able to secure full time employment that paid me a livable salary, I found I didn't need the pantry, and sadly didn't have time to help unload the truck and stock the shelves. I moved on and would refer anyone I knew who was struggling about this super awesome resource, emphasizing that this was a place of respect, dignity, and education.
In 2007, I had my first child and found myself stepping down to part-time work because I couldn't afford child care, which made full time work not cost effective. We had enough to barely hold the house together. My spouse remembered my experience at the pantry and went on line to look at the web site. He said, “Hey-on Thursdays pregnant and nursing women get priority shopping. Maybe you should think about going to help round out our food budget.”
Once again, I balked. I chose to be a parent, chose to work part-time, and didn't feel like I had the right to get help with things I chose to do. We were eating a lot of cheap prepackaged foods which wasn't good for my body, mind, and spirit. I decided if I was going to utilize their services, I would also volunteer again because I felt that I couldn't just take from this organization.

With child seat in tow, I volunteered in the garden and met some really cool people. The pantry had an incredible amount of produce, some things I had never seen before: rutabagas, kohlrabi, and this stuff called kale. For real, I didn't know what those things were. As far as I was concerned, vegetables were just tomatoes, onions, lettuce, celery, and carrots. Fruits were apples and bananas. What's a horned melon? You tell me. I tried them all and Googled recipes to find uses for them, giving me some more education about what I can put into my body. And then there was the tofu! I learned to do a zillion things with that stuff: scrambled egg style tofu, fried tofu, broiled tofu, blended into a vegan cheesecake, etc.

I would see the items I obtained at the pantry at the grocery store and wince. It was all so expensive! Artichokes were nearing $3 a piece, organic produce was daunting, and specialty smoothies and juices hurt my pocketbook. So we used the store for beans, grains, bread, peanut butter, and milk. We utilized the food pantry for the other treasures, really grateful to have access to quality ingredients. We continued to struggle and had child number two, making our dependance on the pantry even stronger. I was grateful, but frustrated. I wanted to be able to take care of this myself and not need assistance. I sought other sources, but we didn't qualify because we made $2,000 over the income requirement. You read that right. $2,000. We didn't live this lavish life style, we were living from paycheck to paycheck counting every penny. I was driving a car that ran but wasn't very safe.
Then I thought about my mom hiding that strip steak and working her hiney off during the day with GED classes, and working all night as a waitress in a bar. It hit me, that everyone deserves to eat good food, like really genuine quality food and no one should have to feel that they have to buy the cheapest stuff or feed their families mac n' cheese and grade Z chicken nuggets five times a week. Eating well is a human right, and let's face it in our country we don't have a good sense of what that looks like. Most people think a greasy sandwich, fries, and pop is a meal, especially if it is less than $5!
So, where am I going with all of this? I'm telling you that if you are struggling, even a little bit that there is NOTHING wrong with getting this help. You have the right to eat good food, from scratch. You get to sit down and eat at a table with your family and it not be over a cheap bucket of chicken. That isn't a meal, it's filler. We are worth more than filler. Learn about your local food bank, volunteer, donate, and spread the news about the resource.
After 5 years, we are finally getting back on our feet and will soon make enough money to purchase the the things our bodies want and need to be healthy. The pantry inspired me to go vegan, so I cook with a lot of whole grains and vegetables. My Meaty McMeat Meat eating husband has drifted towards pescatarianism, a huge improvement from his previous chips and combo meal drive thru eating. Volunteering in the pantry's gardens inspired me to grow my own food and find out how I can make my own exotic dishes without going to a fancy restaurant. Better yet, the importance of allowing me to nurture myself by going to a quality restaurant in lieu of a fast food establishment and not feel guilty about it. My health improved and I felt a healed connection of the garden to place process. I like eating things that I can pronounce that aren't made from chemical processes.

I started a vegan food blog in 2008 showcasing all of my creations using the items from the food bank. I was invited to be a featured publisher for Food Buzz and earned a small stipend (like $3 a month.) I initially used this money to treat myself to a coffee drink. Then I decided I would start giving it to the food bank. $1 buys 7-10# of food! So never underestimate what a huge difference a small contribution makes. Every penny counts!

So Mother Hubbard's Cupboard, Thank You. Big Puffy Glittery Heart thank you for helping me feed my family. For teaching me about humility and respect for myself and my fellow human beings. We are all entitled to eat well. The next time you see someone with a “Will Work For Food” sign, reevaluate your assumptions. Show people (including yourself) how much you love them by cooking them tasty food.
Bon Apetit!
Jennifer Molica, Ellettsville, IN
You can find out more about MHC by visiting their awesome site:
Check out her awesome blog:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cooking from VeganMoFo: Socca

Remember VeganMoFo? I made a list of some of my favorite MoFo posts and resolved to make some of them over the course of the year. That original post is here. I am already a little behind, having only made mashed plantains so far. However, I made some socca today.

These were mad easy and pretty tasty. I like having recipes for quick breads/flatbreads/biscuits that I can make to accompany the main dish. It makes me feel so accomplished as a cook - like I have a super power or something (which I do... shhh!).

Socca: original inspiration from here
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup water
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

Mix ingredients together. (Apparently this can be made ahead of time - like 2 hours ahead. I mixed and used within 20 minutes)
Preheat cast iron pan and oil generously. When the pan is hot add enough batter to coat the bottom of the pan and be about 5 mm thick. The edges will firm and change color. Flip when the firmness is almost to the center of the circle.
Flip. Cook other side for a few minutes.

Apparently you can bake or broil these. Broiling scares the socks off of me!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

From Scratching: Roasting Coffee

Roasting coffee at home is in vogue at the moment. This simultaneously annoys and encourages me. It encourages me because if something so DIY as coffee roasting can become a trend then there may really be hope for a widespread change in the food production system. It annoys me because the rich, white urbanites that are buying raw coffee beans are not doing so in replacement of their charbucks but as a form of social currency.

My foray into coffee roasting is intended to replace the purchase of all coffee beans consumed in the home and I will continue to support local cafes. It is my belief that coffee should be a luxury. It should be a treat, enjoyed because of the flavor and comfort that it brings and not a daily necessity.

It is this view of the luxury of coffee that allows me to drink a single espresso that takes 12 hours to produce!

I have roasted coffee three times now. The first time I tried the beans-in-a-fry-pan method. This method would work but I was too freaked out by the chaff and the popping beans to allow the roasting to continue and therefore had a bunch of under-roasted beans that had to be tossed.

I then bought a 13 dollar popcorn machine and voila roasted beans!

Roast ya'selves some beans:
a popcorn machine
open window/fan
1/2 cup of raw green beans
tea towel

Situate the popcorn machine by an open window or fan as fire alarms have been set off with this method! Place a bowl under the shoot of the machine because once the beans start 'popping' chaff will fly out of the machine. Sometimes beans are expelled as well. Put the beans in the machine and turn it on. Start the stopwatch.

The following are some visual cues I use...

4 minutes - beige/brown
13 minutes - carmel brown
25 minutes - chocolate brown
35 minutes - dark chocolate brown

Turn off the machine and place the beans in the strainer. The top of the popcorn machine is hot, so use the tea towel! Shake the beans until they are cool and you can touch them. Technically the beans are now ready to use but I find that the final product has more body if you wait six to twelve hours. 

Disclaimer: I have not managed a really dark roast (which is the roast I usually like) but I have managed to make a decent espresso with this method.

Due to energy consumption, I would love to use the stove top method but I thought the whole thing was gonna light on fire! I want to try roasting over a campfire - if it lights on fire in the great outdoors - oh well!

Overall this was a fun/rewarding thing to do and the popcorn method is easy! I would recommend you give it a shot!

Have you roasted coffee? Do you have advice for me? What do you think about my views about the luxury of coffee?


Monday, March 12, 2012

Review: Kittee Berns' "Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food" Cookzine

    'Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food' was my first official cookzine purchase and let me tell you, I did NOT regret it! As well as tons of awesome recipes this zine includes articles on 'Cooking for a crowd' and advice on how to plan a menu. I think one could easily and successfully host an Ethiopian dinner party with this cookzine as your only resource - which I plan on doing!

     Another major plus is Kittee's guide to making Ethiopia style/inspired dishes. I made a pretty successful Jackfruit W'et following her guide. If you are a total Ethiopian noob, Kittee even tells you how to eat it authentically. I think eating food in the authentic way is an important sign of respect for the food and the culture so I love that this is included in the cookzine.
     I purchased injera for my Ethiopian feast mainly because I was in a rush and did not prep the injera fake-outs from the zine. I would recommend making either the fake-outs or a more traditional injerna recipe (which is available on Kittee's blog). I would NOT recommend purchasing injera. I assumed that because injera is not a mainstream food that the purchased ones would be tasty and authentic. They aren't. The industrialization and commodifcation of food as a result of the food industry is pretty complete. Any more than wonderbread is good bread, purchased injerna is not good injerna!

Recipes I have made:
Niber Kibbeh (clarified "butter")
Berbere Paste (hot spice blend)
Ye'abesha Gomen (mild collard greens)
Ingudai T'ibs (sauteed mushrooms)
Keysir Allecha (Ethiopian style beets)
Ye'miser W'et Version I (red lentils in a spicy gravy)

    The best advice I have for anyone cooking from this zine is this Don't be afraid of the berbere. I used a very light hand with the berbere and the resulting food was lackluster - which is an odd thing for Ethiopian food to be. The next day I kicked up the berebere and it was divine. The flavor of these dishes comes from the spices. It does not have to be hot, it just needs to be tasty! I made the berebere because I could not find any to purchase, but Kittee's advice to vary up the berebere recipes seems like good advice.
  My first foray into Ethiopian cost me quite a bit but that's because I really had to stock up on my spices. However, now that I have them, my next meals will actually be very cheap (cost of veggies, lentils and beans).
  I have only a few criticisms of this zine. I wish the pronunciation guide was either located at one end of the cookzine or directly after each time the word is used. The guide is currently located on page 18 and is halfway down the page and is under the header 'Make your own!' which makes it difficult to search for. My second critic is a bit more benign as I would have liked a dessert or drinks section.

This cookzine is definitely worth it. I would rate it 4/5.
I lifted the picture from Kittee's blog check it out here and get your own copy of this awesome zine!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Eating the Web

a. The famous Isa Chandra Moskowitz tweeted about growing potatoes in towers. It looks easy, amazing and kinda space saving! Link here.
b. This article on how waiters read your table was very interesting and that my moody behavior may actually get me better service.
c. As someone who has dabbled in homebrew and is an avid drinker of craft brews this article on the future and nature of craft beer was intriguing. I'm not sure where I land on the issues - except that good beer is good!
d. Bees without Borders
e. And yet another ridiculous article on Starbucks!
f. Lastly, the most important news on the web this week - I'm on the Sporkful! Listen Here

Follow me on Twitter @Sarah999 for all my favorite food stories!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Food Podcast: The Sporkful

You may remember this post in which discussed an awesome podcast The Sporkful! They emailed me back and right before Christmas I did a little phone interview with them. I must say I was a little bit awed to be actually talking to Dan and Mark! After a few weeks and new podcasts I'd kind of given up hope that I would be podcast famous! But I checked again to today and my interview was included in this recent episode! SF111: Call in Smorgasbord: Grizzly Dan and PB and Honey

Thanks for the memories Sporkful!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Food Blog Event: Dollar Store Foodies!

I have been thinking of starting this for over a year. I originally got the idea from one of those chef/cooking contest shows. The chefs had to shop at one of those huge dollar stores in the states that carry frozen food and fresh fruit. I have never been in one of those huge dollar stores but ever since that episode when I am in a dollar store I walk down the food aisles and try to think of what I would make. So that's the challenge! Shop at a dollar store and see what delicious dishes you can dream up!

Shop at a dollar store.
Spend approx 5 dollars on 5 items. (excluding taxes)
Use those 5 items and standard pantry and spice items. (Standard to you.)
The items purchased should be the star of the dish!

Deadline: 31 March 2012

Send an email to wingedsnail99 [at] hotmail [dot] ca with the following information:
- your name
- your location
- the name of the dish
- the ingredients that you got at the dollar store
- perma link to the blog post (the blog post should include a link to this blog)
- a small, thumbnail picture of the dish

Questions? Ask away!

Be creative and have fun. And come back in April for roundup!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

News for March

I have been posting my 'news' here on the food blog but because of the nature of this news (food distro, academic, and life in general) I have decided to shift it over to my main blog - This month's is posted on both blogs but next month will be on the main blog only! Thanks!

This month...
... on there will be
a. a review of the cookzine 'Papa Tofu loves Ethiopian Food'
b. my first foray into coffee roasting
c. monthly blog event entitled 'Dollar Store Foodies!'
... at the cookzine distro
a. massive zine listing update
... Presentations at
a. philopolis Guelph
b. Dalhousie graduate conference
... regarding zines in general
a. final layout and print run of the zine 'Make a Wish...'
b. first official call for submission for my next zine project (don't worry it WILL be about food!)
... in real life
a. 4 year wedding anniversary
b. St. P's day celebration!

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