All posts by andrea

Munching moths

Who knew they didn’t just eat your clothing?

Over the course of this year, my roommates and I have noticed moths fluttering through the kitchen every so often. We figured out early on that these weren’t the moths that ate clothes or the moths that flutter around lamps outside at night. These were meal moths. Once we figured it out, we began to suspect that they might be eating our food, but it didn’t come up again for months.

Last week, though, I pulled out my bag of walnuts (3 pounds — thank you, Costco!) and discovered a hole in it. And webby things hanging off the sides of the bag. And sandy little gritty stuff all over the bottom of the bag, which the Interwebs have informed me is actually moth poop. And the moths were all, “NO WALNUTS FOR YOU.”

I really didn’t want to know what was in the rest of the food in my pantry, but I figured I’d check. There were the traces of moth in my oatmeal. Then in my hazelnuts, dates, cashews, almonds and granola. Their tastes, apparently, are not cheap! In fact, their tastes appear to be remarkably close to pretty much everything I have in my pantry: “coarse cereal products, nuts, herbs and spices … dried fruits and vegetables.” Turns out they can also bore through fairly thick plastic bags, which became clear when we found my roommate’s unopened bag of basmati rice full of moth larvae. The last straw came when I went to put cardamom into the banana ice cream I was making today and found traces of moths in all my bagged spices. You’ll have to ask my roommates if it’s comical to watch a twenty-something screaming at moth larvae; I’m too close to the matter to comment myself.

The flypaper and the pheromone traps we put up in our pantry do seem to be working — I never thought I’d be so satisfied to watch a wholesale moth massacre — and we’re working on acquiring more moth-proof containers. I’m officially out of Mason jars, which I never expected to happen.

Ultimately, though, it’s not like the tiny fluttering moth carcasses hanging on the flypaper are feeling the full weight of my vengeful feelings. There are dozens, mind you. But they’re definitely not feeling guilty that they ate all my food. It’s just gross now, and nobody gets to eat it.

If it were anything else, I’d feel way better about it. If someone came into my house and ate all my food, I guess I’d be mad (sometimes I am sort of food aggressive), but at least it would be hidden away in that person’s stomach and not intact but for the creepy crawlies. Throwing away so much food that was perfectly serviceable not two months ago hurt. A lot.

Most of the time I think I pass for a real adult pretty well, but the meal moths make me want to curl up under the covers and ask someone else to fix this problem for me. OK, maybe I only pass for a real adult sometimes. Definitely don’t ask me about the time this week when I tried to put clothes on both ropes of a pulley clothesline and broke it had to find a tall person to retrieve my clothes.

At least I’m trying.

Game on.

Cooking up a storm
Chef Jimmy Kennedy demonstrates game-cooking techniques

When I hear the words “local food,” my mind jumps to tiny, sun-drenched fields of kohlrabi and kale, grown by a tie-dye t-shirted farmer and sold with a smile at a farmers’ market.

My mind doesn’t jump to a camouflaged deer blind high in the Green Mountains or an outboard motorboat floating on Lake Champlain, a fishing line stretching off to the side, but recently I’ve been thinking that’s an under-appreciated part of the story.

Hunting and fishing aren’t just a time-honored part of Vermont’s local food system — local, sustainably-raised food well before those were even words we used for our food. They also stand to broaden the discussion on local foods, to welcome others under the umbrella of a movement that’s been criticized as elitist and exclusive.

And, well, the products of those endeavors taste damn good.

It’s because of the latter point that I found myself at a game cooking demonstration at the 21st annual Yankee Sportsmans Classic last Saturday afternoon.

As soon as we were through the door, I turned to ask the ticket attendant a question, then turned back, looking for my Carhartt-jacketed, bearded, baseball-hatted boyfriend, who was there to seek culinary inspiration for the game animals he hopes to land in the near future. Only there was one slight problem: everyone, it seemed, had a Carhartt jacket and a gray ballcap, and he had melted into the crowd.

So I did what any lost, easily distracted food-obsessive would do: I headed for the table that promised samples of barbecue sauces.

Turned out he’d been right behind me, but I didn’t figure that out for another 20 minutes.

In the meantime, walking up and down the rows of tables advertising pelts, rifles, hunting licenses and elk jerky, I couldn’t shake off the uneasy feeling born of my first 20 years of life in New York City, where the local police precinct held “guns are dangerous” seminars and where firearms had no practical purpose but agression and self-defense, and certainly no role in any food system that I knew of. Until I arrived in Vermont for college, guns were simply sinister, nothing more.

Here, though, the tables bedecked with “preserve our second amendment rights” petitions were surrounded by posters demonstrating hunter safety and by foods, slippers and other products made of the bounties of hunting.

There were also some pretty creepy skunk-pelt hand puppets, but I mostly tried to ignore those.

So I was in a contemplative mood when, I finally found the game cooking seminar (and my boyfriend) and we chowed down on venison and duck. And really, nothing argues a point quite like a good meal:

jambalaya
Trout and salmon jambalaya
Duck breast with apples and pear
venison steak
Venison steak with red wine and cherry sauce

The venison-sausage meatloaf came next, but have you ever tried photographing it? The better it is, the less photogenic.

On the other hand, these buttery, flaky cheddar crackers were photogenic, and they tasted even better:

2013-01-19 15.57.46edit
Now there’s a deer I can eat whole.

As with many other things in life, I’m finding that there are many more sides to the local food story (and the firearm story) than I saw at first glance, and it sure doesn’t hurt that some of those sides are quite delicious.

So here’s to new experiences, and here’s to embracing another side of the local foods movement.

(By the way, you can find all the recipes here)

Food producers rank high in deadliest US jobs

Food producers rank high in deadliest US jobs

(via http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/01/08/168897140/the-deadliest-jobs-in-america-in-one-graphic)

In this infographic from NPR, we see that fishermen have incidences of death on the job more than 34 times the national average, while farmers and ranchers fall at more than 7 times the national average (worth noting is that fishing is a lot safer than it used to be). Providing food for the country is a dangerous job.

Food — keeping me busy

I don’t think it’s fair to say that communication on this blog has dribbled off to nonexistent, since, well, it really wasn’t all that existent in the first place.

Lest you think I’ve been goofing off and spending my time on things unrelated to food, I am here to assure you that I most certainly have not, and I have photographic proof of that.

I went to Montreal (this was way back in August, but still relevant) and discovered that the Millenium Falcon was inspired by a hamburger, of all things.

Also there, I discovered my favorite beer, pretty much of all time:

(It’s rye beer brewed with peppercorns — zing!)

I also made tamales and mole to share with one of my classes. Yes, this was homework. Yummy homework.

I discovered that food conferences in Vermont have the best food ever.

I explored Bella Farm in Monkton (again, this was for class)

My friendly neighborhood coffee shop succumbed to fall frenzy.

Mysteriously, my mood took a turn and I became quite hungry for brains:

I’m better now, especially since I’ve gotten all of the zombie makeup off of my face.

I promise, next time I write it will be to actually say something, rather than bombard you with pictures. But the guilt was getting to me, and I figured I had to post something or risk forgetting all about this blog. So there you have it.

Food journalists beware

You may have seen that whole study last week about the lab rats that developed tumors after eating genetically modified foods. I read about it a couple times over, and I had friends who mentioned it to me while shaking their heads as though resigned to the state of world affairs.

But seriously, let’s step back a minute and take a look at the larger context. I’m not going to dissect the study (Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize, published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology) apart — that’s a task better suited to people with more of a scientific background than I have. Continue reading Food journalists beware