Category Archives: food safety

Produce, Fear Not!

Yesterday, Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510), a landmark bill that greatly increases the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority over our nation’s food system.  Under this law, to be signed by President Obama today, food facilities will be required to put food safety plans in place, and the FDA will have the ability to issue mandatory food recalls. Continue reading

Keeping it Simple: Sweet Dumpling Squash

Amidst the massive egg recall and the debate over local food math, I’m craving simplicity.  With summer vacations departed and the back-to-school frenzy afoot, the slow dwindling of daylight hours subdues my kitchen a bit.

Okay, I admit it. I don’t have any kids to cart off to Target for school supplies or worry about what to wear on the first day or pack for lunch.  While my only concern outside of the pending cooler temperatures is wondering how the changing traffic pattern may affect my work commute, this historically hectic time of year has permeated my mindset.  Back to the basics I go with this unadorned, baked Sweet Dumpling squash, courtesy of the Landisdale Farm CSA.  A tender and sweet summer send-off. Continue reading

A Jar of Spirit: Sweet Pickles

There’s something special about food in a Mason jar, though I can’t quite put my finger on it.  Perhaps it’s the persona it exudes: homemade, distinct, unique; or maybe it’s the belief that a fair amount of care and effort linger just beneath the lid.

Canning foods adds a layer of depth to eating seasonally by “saving the seasons” — fresh, bright blueberries in the midst of a harsh, cold winter is a particularly pleasant prospect, especially when coupled with the personal fulfillment of having created the product yourself.  I’ve been reading about how to can foods at home, wrapping my brain around the necessary steps to, quite frankly, avoid poisoning myself and fellow tasters.  Canning is a bit scientific and methodical, requiring certain supplies to execute a heat-activated process to kill microorganisms and inactivate enzymes that cause food to spoil.  Jars must be vacuum-sealed to prevent air from entering and re-contaminating the food. Continue reading

Outside the Zone: Baby Bok Choy with Garlic and Ginger

With a day job that has little relevance to my skill set and education, I’m often operating outside of my comfort zone.  At the end of each work week, you can always tell just how far I’ve traveled by looking at my fingernails; the more chewed and ragged, the more challenge faced.  My nails aren’t looking so hot right now – I know some R&R is needed.

Of course I don’t find expanding outside of my culinary comfort zone quite as taxing.  (Plus, my hands are kept busy so that I can’t torment my nails.)  This week, I experimented with organic baby bok choy from Lancaster Farm Fresh that I picked up at the Piazza Market.  Lancaster Farm Fresh is a non-profit cooperative of 64 farmers in Lancaster County Pennsylvania.  They serve Eastern PA up to New York City and sell certified organic produce and pasture-raised animal products.  The cooperative also supports farmers that use environmentally friendly Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices.  This means no pesticides; an important point following the recent release of a government report suggesting that industrial chemicals in our environment are making Americans sick.  Check out the New York Times coverage of this story… it really makes you think. Continue reading