Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Good Eats, New Reads, SFIU, etc.

As Summer draws to a close I actually find myself pretty happy about it. For once I am really looking forward to Fall classes and all that the semester brings. I'll be taking an Anthro class centered on foodways, as well as a Caribbean Lit class in which the professor has graciously allowed me to write my papers about food themes in the books we read. I will also hopefully be working more hours at Jiffy Treet (the locally owned ice cream store that employs me), which is great because I really love working there.

Slow Food IU is *finally* an official organization at Indiana University, however we still have to charter with Slow Food USA. Plans are in the works to do that during the second week of classes. I'm thrilled that we are getting this off the ground after almost a year of planning and more than a little ball-dropping on the part of many people (myself included).

Yesterday I picked up Home Grown Indiana, the latest from my all-time favorite professor and author of the blog at My Plate or Yours, Christine Barbour. She wrote this guide to good eating in Indiana along with Scott Hutcheson, blogger at The Hungry Hoosier. The book is subtitled "A Food Lover's Guide to Good Eating in the Hoosier State," and profiles local farmers, restaurants, CSAs, and Co-ops in every region of Indiana. I've not started it yet, but I look forward to using it as a resource as I have recently made the decision to eat only at locally-owned and small or independent places for a while. I'm also going to try to do as much of my shopping as possible at non-corporate businesses. This should be an interesting experience as I am also taking an Anthro class this semester called "Corporations in Culture, Culture in Corporations." I'm not sure yet if the professor will take the class in a pro-corporation or anti-corporation direction, but nonetheless it should provide plenty of food for thought.

Recently I had the opportunity to dine at Boi Na Braza, a Churrascaria, or Brazilian steak house, in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am not sure if it is a chain or not (it only has two locations, one in Dallas and one in Cincy), but it was one of the higher-end restaurants I have ever gotten to experience, so the restaurant critic in me absolutely loved it. I'll spare you my full review and just note that while the atmosphere was very classy and fun for a pizza-eating college student to experience, I have eaten much better from some local restaurants here in Bloomington.

On September 6th I will be attending the "Healthy Food, Local Farms" conference in Louisville Kentucky. I think it is mostly for local farmers and producers in Kentucky, but the theme is "Politics of Food," which I have a great deal of interest in, and there will be some notable speakers, including Daniel Imhoff and Wendell Berry. A farmer friend suggested I attend, and since I am trying to soak up as much food culture as possible these days, it sounded like a good idea. My mom is going to attend the conference as well, which I am really excited about because she is starting to get into some Slow Food stuff and I am hoping she can maybe help spread the Slow word around her part of Indiana, where there isn't much knowledge of the movement or its ideals.

I guess that's about all I have to say for this installment of my adventures in food. I think I am going to make bagels this afternoon (which is quite a labor-intensive undertaking), so I need to head to Bloomingfoods and pick up my ingredients.

Best wishes of good food and fellowship to you all until the next adventure.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Farmer's Market Breakfast

Besides its fabulous kitchen, my new house has the perk of being just three blocks from the Bloomington Farmer's Market. So lately I have been loving getting up early (well, early for me anyway) on Saturdays and walking down there for a chat with some of my farmer friends, some fresh produce and other comestibles, and an hour or two out in the sunshine before it gets too hot, as Indiana is wont to do in mid to late summer.

This week my sister was visiting, so I decided to pick up fixings for a big farmer's market breakfast. I bought some eggs from Rhodes Family Farm, some fabulous Kentucky smoked bacon from my friend Rebekah Fiedler at Fiedler Family Farms, some fresh mozzarella cheese from Trader's Point Creamery, some beautiful garlic from a farm stand I sadly cannot remember the name of, and some zucchini from a small Amish farm stand. Then I stopped by Bloomingfoods just down the street and picked up some parsley and walnuts.

Zucchini has been my obsession of late-- I just cannot seem to get enough of it! So I decided to incorporate it into breakfast by making zucchini-walnut bread, a long time favorite of mine. I got that in the oven, then fried up the bacon (which smelled unbelieveable and drew several wayward roommates to the kitchen), poured off the grease, then cooked the eggs in the same pan (I know, I can feel my arteries clogging, too, but it tastes so good!), threw in some garlic, fresh mozzarella, and parsley, and plated it all up for a delicious Saturday morning breakfast. It was wonderful, and I'd like to make it a Saturday morning tradition... we'll see!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Guess Who?

Yay, it's me, I'm back!

My deepest and sincerest apologies for completely disappearing for the last 8 months. I needed to figure out my life and what I wanted to do with it. That was painful at times, fun at others, but all in all it turned out well, I think. Anyway, a lot has gone on in my food life lately so I guess I ought to play catch-up (or ketchup, heehee) for a moment.

Slow Food IU:

Still trying to get off the ground. There is plenty of interest and we have convinced SFUSA to pretty much let us do it our way, but now IU is giving us the run-around. The website for the Student Activities Office is in the midst of a remodeling, I guess, so several of the links are inactive or selectively active, and in this new age of technological savvy of course we are only able to register our group online. So I have been playing email tag with a representative of their office who sometimes emails me back and sometimes doesn't. Needless to say I am quite frustrated by this situation. But I will continue to bombard them with emails and hope they get their act together by the time Fall semester starts in a month.

New House:

While I was very excited about having a real kitchen when I first moved into my apartment, I soon realized that it is very difficult to cook anything elaborate in a kitchen the size of a modest closet. I had no counter space, very few outlets, a temperamental oven, and so little cabinet space that I had to keep my pots and pans in an additional cabinet I purchased and placed in my dining room. Add to that a hefty course load, a crazy work schedule, a crazier sleep schedule, and very, very little money, and you can probably understand why I ate a lot of macaroni and cheese and peanut butter and jelly, when I cooked at all. I've gotten very familiar with the Bloomington food delivery scene in the last 8 months. But I'm happy to say I've moved into a house with a great kitchen, plenty of space, and roommates who share a love of good food. My only regret is that I have had to go from cooking with gas to cooking with electric, but I am sure I will adjust. Good food has a place in my life again!

(The photo at the top of the post is of my new kitchen. There is also a wall of counter space and some gorgeous built in cabinets that are not visible in the pic.)

Terre Madre 2008:

I am very excited to share that in October I will be attending Terre Madre 2008 in Torino, Italy. Terre Madre is a Slow Food-sponsored international gathering of food communities to "work towards increasing small-scale, traditional, and sustainable food production." I cannot express my excitement for this venture. I've never been to Europe, so getting to go (for free, no less!) and be completely immersed in Slow culture is a dream come true for me. Terre Madre is running concurrently with Salone del Gusto, a taste festival and food marketplace for food producers from all over Italy and the world. Olive oil and Prosecco and prosciutto, oh my!

My Major:

It was in the midst of Chemistry-C 117 that I discovered that dietetics was not the major for me. C 117 is the third or fourth math/science class required for a dietetics major that I have seriously struggled with. I've managed to pass these classes, but I am steadily lowering my GPA with the C-range grades I have been getting in them, putting some of my scholarships in danger, and for what? The only reason I chose dietetics in the first place was because IU didn't have a major called "reading and writing about food." I looked at the degree requirements for dietetics and realized I would be taking several more math/science classes before all was said and done, and that to me it wasn't worth it for a major that was a poor substitute for what I really wanted to begin with. So I made up my own major. With the help of a professor of mine who is somewhat familiar with my food writing, I have designed my own major, tentatively called "Culture of Food in Writing." I want to explore and participate in food writing of all genres: fiction, expository, journalism, etc. I am also going to double major in anthropology, to get a broader sense of culture, especially food culture, in general, and to set myself up for a possible grad degree in food anthropology. And, by luck or chance, it looks like I will have the credits to minor in comparative lit. Woohoo!

Everything Else:

Since my last update in November I have attended some fun food events. This Winter I attended the Art of Chocolate sponsored by Options for Better Living in Bloomington. Normally I would not have been able to attend this somewhat ritzy event at the IU Art Mueseum, but thanks to the generosity of a fellow Slow Food member I, along with my partner in foodie crime, Sarah, was able to attend. We had a wonderful time, stuffed ourselves with chocolate and wine, and enjoyed the live chocolate artwork.

In early summer there were a couple of fun Slow events. The Bloomington convivium (now called Indiana Uplands?) held it's semi-annual potluck and a good time was had by all, as always seems to be the case when interesting people are gathered around good, Slow food. And at the end of June I worked as a server at the Slow Food Chef's dinner, which is paying for my plane fare to Italy this Fall. That too was an enjoyable experience, though sadly I didn't get to try much of the food.

I am happy to note that I finally got sick of the fast food machine and quit my job at Steak N Shake after three grueling years. One can only sling steakburgers and put up with drunks and self-important a-holes for so long, you know? Currently I am scooping ice cream at Jiffy Treet, which is at least a locally-owned business, and contemplating getting my liquor license and trying to get in at a Slow restaurant once Fall classes begin and businesses around here start hiring again. I will also hopefully (fingers crossed) be getting a food column in the Indiana Daily Student, IU's newspaper, this Fall. That too would be a dream come true for me, so I hope it works out.

Goodness, what a long post. Thanks for sticking with me for an 8-month update of my food life. I sincerely hope to begin updating regularly now. For real this time, haha.

Peace, love, and good food, my friends.