January 31, 2011

Exploring the Gray Areas

I have ideas for several posts about topics I've seen in the news over and over again in the last few years.  I believe our media does us a great disservice when they feed us biased, panic-inducing stories about the next big killer compound.  We accept what we are told as fact when there is actually a lot of gray in between the two sides.  I think Zero Tolerance is just an excuse to have Zero Common Sense, so I hope to be able to shine just a little bit of light in those gray areas and learn something myself while I'm at it.  Many of the topics are food related and are of particular interest to me after a lifelong love of food and cooking, a college education in Food Science, and as a mother in charge of (most of*) my daughter's diet.  I do not present myself as any kind of expert, only someone interested in looking at both sides of the story, trying to make some sense of it and sharing what I find.

It seems that the more health concious we get, the more horror stories there are about our food.  Over the years, as we changed from farmers to businessmen living packed together in bulging metropolises, the practice of preparing the yearly smoked pig, canning vegetables from the garden and making fruit preserves to get through the winter became obsolete.  Factories popped up to create foods that could live on a shelf long enough for the city folks to eat and food preservation on a mass scale was born.

Food production on this scale is rarely pretty; there are many things I wish I could unlearn from my college classes, but they are burned into my brain for good.  The joke around Schaub Hall was that roommates of food scientists watched carefully what the food science student would eat, if they wouldn't eat something, the roommate avoided it as well and never asked why.  The truth is that the creepy things done to food are done purely to get the most food to the most people at the lowest cost.  That doesn't mean that they are the best things you can choose to do to a poor, innocent potato, it only means that it won't be rotten or make you sick - at least not from food-borne illness.

As we come full circle and move back towards the ways of growing our own vegetables, buying locally, etc., etc., we have work to do as consumers.  Know what is done to your food but, more importantly know why.  When you see a news story about that new killer compound, ask why.  Why is it in my food?  Why is it supposed to be bad for me?  What are the alternatives?  Then you can choose whether you want to avoid it or not, if you are lucky enough to have the money to make those choices.

Remember that it is your choice to eat something or to not eat it, some people are just trying to get by.  Don't judge that lady at the store for buying those pre-made, frozen hamburger patties.  Maybe that's the only way she can afford actual meat protein for herself, husband, 4 children, Grandpa and crazy Aunt Petunia on two meager incomes.  Or, maybe she just likes the way they taste.  In 25 years we'll all be eating dehydrated food pellets anyway.**

*She eats lunch and two snacks at day care five days a week.  I don't like all of the food they serve there, but it's not too bad.
**I really hope not :p - but my husband, who I made read this post first hopes that we do end up eating food pellets, or at least some soylent green.

January 29, 2011

Shredded Brussels Sprouts

I like Brussels sprouts.  I like them steamed.  I like them roasted.  I really like steamed sprouts cut in half and broiled with some butter and parmesan cheese on top.  However, unless they are doused with butter and cheese, I pretty much only want one serving.  I made the recipe below recently, had seconds and seriously considered thirds.

The lemon juice neutralizes what I call the fart taste.  Or, as my more mature friend Kate says, the sulfur taste.  Anyway, the lemon juice brightens the flavor without making it sour or even lemony.  I loathe caraway seeds with the very fiber of my being, so I chose the poppy seeds.  They made the dish visually interesting and every once in a while you would actually chomp down on one which was kind of nice, but they certainly could be left out with no damage to the dish.  If you choose to use the caraway seeds, that is your choice.  I promise not to judge you....much.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
3 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. poppy seeds or caraway seeds
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Rinse sprouts, trim stems and remove any leaves with spots.
Thinly slice the sprouts.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
Cook the sprouts just until wilted but still crisp-tender (about 3-5 minutes).
Add the lemon juice, seeds, salt and pepper.
Toss and serve.

Notes: I cut each one into 4 or 5 slices which worked fine, but it might be better a little thinner.  Also, the picture looks like they fell apart more than mine did, maybe the stem should be trimmed a bit so the outer leaves will fall off during cooking.

Adapted from Redbook October 2009 issue

January 26, 2011

Blog Resurrection

Hey, what's this?!?

[blows off a huge puff of dust and dog hair]

Oh, wow!  It's my blog!!!

Yes, I'm finally back after nearly a year.  I finally managed to find a web address that was available and I'll try to learn to do some other faincy computer-y things.  Why the changes you ask?  Because I have other things I would like to write about in addition to the joys of parenthood and it doesn't seem quite right under the Little Bug Strahler title.  Additionally, I don't want to lose all the hard work I put into the previous posts.  There's some good stuff in there, if I don't say so myself.

Look for new stuff soon!