If you're like me, you get tired of the same breakfasts all the time. If you're like me you also avoid fast-food breakfasts like the plague (though they are way, way more delicious than the plague. Especially the Burger King Croissanwich). This weekend I decided to break out of my weekday doldrums of a bagel and a banana and use some of the oatmeal that's sitting on top of the fridge, promising heart health and low cholesterol.


  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • wheat germ (optional, to be added later)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or other low flavor oil. You can reduce this by half if you're worried about calories)
  • 1/2 cup honey (or more, to taste)
  • 6 oz. dried fruit
  • A pinch of kosher salt


  • Cookie sheet
  • Large mixing bowl (glass or ceramic is best--try to avoid plastic as you'll be working with hot ingredients)

Begin by spreading the nuts and oat meal out on a cookie sheet. Bake at 300°F for about 20 minutes, mixing twice during the baking process (I went with 8 minute intervals). Remove from the oven and combine in a large mixing bowl with the oil, honey, a dash of the salt and a generous sprinkling of the wheat germ.

Note: Wheat germ toasts very easily. You can control your granola's flavor profile by adding the wheat germ at different times. If you add it too early, however, it might burn. I would suggest baking the wheat germ no more than five minutes. However, if you want a rich, deep flavor with just a hint of smokiness and caramelization, then you might want to add the wheat germ during the second mixing, about 16 minutes during the first baking.

When the ingredients are well mixed, transfer them back to the cookie sheet and bake your mix an additional five minutes. Remove from the oven, go back to the mixing bowl and add your fruit. Taste. If it needs sweetening (it probably doesn't, especially if you brought dried fruit, to which manufacturers almost always add sugar), add a little more honey or a teaspoon of brown sugar. Let the mix cool, and you've got yourself some excellent granola with few additives, no HFC, and it works out to about fifty cents per serving.


Wednesday news bites for June 25, 2008

Teach your kids healthy eating habits with online games

Does food need a story?
It certainly helps

Geenpeace's fish tails: supermarket no-nos
A confusing report with a singular conclusion: our oceans are being over fished.

Text your food queries
Find out which fish are healthy to eat by texting the name of the fish to The Blue Ocean Institute (just don't ask Green Peace).

a good trick for saving summer herbs for future use

Tomato probe cites 2 sources
Mexico and....Florida. Great

Tastespotting.com looks to be coming back

The Today Show reports on America's wasted food
(from Slashfood)

Drought turns the whiskey stills dry
Weeks of sunshine create water shortages


Pan seared tilapia with shallots and bacon

Pan-seared tilapia with bacon and shallots

For a long time I thought tilapia was some kind of garbage fish. People talked about it with derision most often reserved for the Fillet-O-Fish or other generic whitefish battered and deep fried. But tilapia might be one of the better values currently in your local market's sea food section. It's cheap, low on the food chain, and farm raised, which makes it affordable, low in mercury and sustainable. And as long as you buy from farms with good regulation and safety practices, you can be assured of getting good, firm fillets that will stand up to a nice pan sear. Bonus? It provides some of the same omega 3 fatty acids as its oilier, mercury filled cousins.

This past weekend I picked up a couple tilapia fillets and brought them home. With some shallots and bacon I was able to throw together a simple, easy fish course (with bacon) in about 30 minutes, including prep. And it was delicious.


  • 8 strips of bacon
  • 4 shallots
  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 1/2 cup water or fish stock
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar (or more, to taste)
  • 2 tsp honey (or more, to taste)
  • kosher salt

Begin by heating a pan over medium heat. While the pan heats, coarsely chop the bacon and slice the shallots into discs about a quarter-inch thick. When the pan is heated, add the bacon, stir briefly and then let it sit for six minutes (or as directed on your bacon's packaging). Flip the pieces, and gently stir in the shallots. Let the mix cook an additional four minutes. Turn up the heat just a bit, and remove the bacon and shallots with a slotted spoon.

By the time you've got the bacon and shallots out of the pan, it should be hot enough for the fillets. Place them gently in the pan and sear on one side about two minutes. Flip, and sear on the other side an additional two minutes. Don't move them or mess with them or anything. You want constant, prolonged contact with the pan to get good caramelization.

Remove the fillets to plates, then add the stock to the pan to deglaze it. Add the honey and vinegar to bring some sweetness and acid to the sauce and reduce the hit to low for several minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary. Drizzle the sauce on the fillets, then top with a smattering of the bacon and shallots. Enjoy!

What to pair it with?
I'm a big fan of contrasting food with wine--With hot, salty food, I like a cold, sweet wine. With this dish, the fat from the bacon provides a wonderful, unctuous texture that's just begging to be cut by a crisp white wine, like a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio.


Travel the World (one cuisine at a time)


Satellite Magazine's June food column

America has its burger and fries, Germany its schnitzel, Russia its borscht and vodka. Regions, too have their assocaited dishes. The American south has its okra, corn bread and ribs. New England has its clam chowder, and Texas and the American Southwest their Mexican-influenced cuisines. This is how we can travel--through food--and expand our horizons. Feel like crossing the Atlantic? Avail yourself of some traditional bangers and mash, French cassoulet, or Spanish paella. The Pacific? Traditional Japanese sashimi might be the way to go.

This summer, we're going to travel through food, and we'll begin our jouney with a small hop to South America. Peru, specifically, and we'll get there via ceviche.

Ceviche is considered Peru's national dish, though a traveler can find variations up and down the pacific coast of South and Central America, from the trailing tip of Chile all the way to Baja, Mexico. Each variation comes with subtle regional differences in ingredients and preparation. What I bring you this month is a fairly traditional preparation (except for the pita chips), but don't be afraid to experiment with various citrus juices, different types of fish and your favorite vegetables. Just keep in mind that ceviche should be light, bright and refreshing, so steer clear of the broccoli and cauliflower.

Ceviche with pita chips (appetizer, serves 2)


  • 10 Shrimp
  • 2 palm-sized portion of sweet white fish (halibut, tilapia, whittig or the like)
  • Juice from 6 limes or more (you need enough to cover the fish)
  • 1/2 medium red pepper, diced small
  • 1/2 medium green pepper, diced small
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion (start with this amount and adjust to suit taste)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher slat
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (increase for more heat)
  • black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 pieces of pita bread

Cut the fish into bite-sized pieces, and peel and devein the shrimp. You might want to remove the tails, but that's a personal preference. Place the fish, shrimp, salt and red pepper flakes in a glass or ceramic bowl and cover with lime juice. Give it a good shake, and then let it marinate for 2 - 3 hours. When the fish has turned opaque, you’re ready to continue.

A note about cooking with acid: the process the fish goes through during the marinade (check spelling) is called denaturation. In essence, the acids in the lime juice "cook" the proteins in the firsh and shrimp It's a technique similar in many ways to pickling.

To make the pita chips, tear or cut the pita bread in half, and separate the pockets, top from bottom. Each piece of pita bread will yield four pieces of the eventual hard toast. Line the pita pieces on a baking dish, brush them with olive oil, and bake at 400 for about five minutes. You want them to be toasted and slightly crispy. Bring them out of the oven and cut them into triangles. You can also serve the ceviche on lettuce leaves or as a simple seafood salad.

Once your fish has finished soaking, stir in the the remaining ingredients and give it a taste. Add salt or red pepper as necessary to bring up the flavor or heat. If you'd like it be a little more savory, you can add a dash of cumin or garlic. Remember, however, the flavor of ceviche should be bright and refeshing, just the thing on a hot summer day in Gainesville.


Time Magazine tackles obesity

The June 23 issue of Time Magazine tackles obesity, America's number-one preventable disease. The issue examines School Cuisine, Overweight Children, and ways in which ethnicity, location and economic standing all contribute to the obesity problem:

It's no secret that the U.S. has a crippling weight problem and that our children are hardly exempt. Rising obesity threatens to condemn a significant share of the next generation to a lifetime of weight-related disease, overburdening the already struggling U.S. health-care system. Though a recent study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers found that childhood-obesity levels may finally have leveled off, more than 30% of American schoolchildren are still overweight, with little indication that rates will drop anytime soon. The CDC defines as overweight those children with a body mass index (BMI)--a rough factoring of height and weight--higher than the 85th percentile of figures from the 1960s and '70s, before the obesity epidemic hit. Obesity is defined as the 95th percentile. That's far from healthy. "The childhood obesity epidemic is a tsunami," says David Ludwig, an obesity researcher at Children's Hospital in Boston and the author of Ending the Food Fight. "We can see the wave heading toward shore."

Wednesday news bites for June 18, 2008

The $100 kitchen
Do you have an indispensable tool?

Tomato trials
Latest news from the continuing salmonella tomato saga.

Putting meat back in its place
Mark Bittman provides some practical advice on reducing the amount of meat you eat.

Japan, seeking trim waists, measures millions
Waist measuring in Japan becomes a mandatory part of the annual checkup for people between the ages of 40 and 74. The target? 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women.

Tastespotting is dead. Long live Food Gawker.

The 125 healthiest supermarket foods in America
No entry for best carrot.


Wednesday news bites for June 11, 2008

Summer Reading For the Food Obsessed
I'd like to add On Food and Cooking, and Starting With Ingredients. What are some food books you all have liked?

Salmonella scare halts tomato sales
Again, the problem with singular sourcing

Sustainable on a budget? Order starts with a clean kitchen
Well, of course it does. You can't do anything if you're mired in clutter. For more on this topic, see my post, Cleanliness is next to...

Notes on the urban chicken movement
Urban farm-to-table ranching. This time with chickens.

Boosting health with local food.
Scientists earn grant to study the possible health benefits of local food.

As costs keep rising, restauranteurs find creative ways to cope
Perhaps they can be used and appropriated by the home cook.

Big Fat Lie
Carbs (namely, sugar) and genetic predisposition cause American obesity. I agree. America has figured a way to put sugar (or worse, high fructose corn syrup) in everything.

Bon Apetit Y'All
Mixing French techniques with traditional southern recipes.

Jamie Oliver's Latest Bloody Brilliant Idea
Jamie Oliver decides to pay-it-forward, on television. I like the idea of recipe's evolution--one of the hallmarks of food creation.


Recipe 'deal breakers': quit complaining and just cook

With the recent firestorm surrounding Kim Severson’s "Recipe Deal Breakers: When Step 2 Is 'Corral Pig,'" I was ready to hate the article. I was ready to cast Severson as a lazy whiner and rail against her unwillingness to go the extra mile, but it’s not as bad as all that because at one point she describes Melissa Steineger’s realization,

[The recipes from Coyote Café cookbook] went unmade until her cooking skills improved and she had an epiphany: she could substitute.

"That freed me," she said.

As cooks--as people, one of our most valuable skills is critical thinking. It’s what enabled us to survive when we realized the old spears didn’t work against mammoths. Something must be wrong. Let me think about this and figure out what’s next. It’s what spurred the invention of the atlatl, and it’s what enables a cook to substitute bacon for pancetta. Is it going to taste exactly the same? No, probably not. Will it taste close enough for most people? Yes, I imagine it would.

This is one of the wonderful things about learning to cook. Anyone can follow a recipe to the letter. It’s one of the reasons baking is so popular. "Just tell me exactly what to do, and I’ll make it happen." Baking recipes are precise, and if you follow them, you will end up with something that has a flavor and texture just like the real things. Unless you’re trying to bake at high altitude or in very low or very high humidity. But cooking--good cooking relies on, among other things, the cook’s ability to think fast, to make changes and adapt as the need arises. Scared by "serves 18"? Divide everything by three and the recipe will serve six. Keep the leftovers for lunch. If a recipe calls for julienned carrots and you don’t have the time, inclination or skills to do a good job? Give it a go anyway. No one ever learned anything by not trying.

What really struck me as pathetic were the comments people left. Refusing to cook food you don't like doesn't mean the recipe is too difficult or "too fussy" to make. It just means you don't like certain foods or have made choices about what you'll eat. People who wrote things like, "Butter" completely missed the point (and should be kicked out of the kitchen). And "meanwhile" as a deal breaker? How does this person get anything done? While waiting for the laundry to dry, does she sit and stare at the wall? I also don’t understand people who shy away from words like, "just" or "quickly." It’s food on fire. Pay attention to it if you have to. And if it all goes to shit? Think about what went wrong and don’t do that next time. Then order a pizza.


Wednesday news bites for June 4, 2008

Jamie Oliver calls for sex ban to get men cooking
Jamie Oliver runs neck and neck with Gordon Ramsay for Crazy-ass British Chef award

The Trouble with Teflon
What you're cooking with could kill you?

The World on a Plate: A Tour Through the History of America's Ethnic Quisine
Denker, a professor and food writer, assembles oral histories of various immigrant endeavors in the food industries of America.

The Perfect Hate Storm: Malkin vs. Rachel Ray and Dunkin' Donuts
Evidence of a few zealots willing to follow the retarded. Dunkin' Donuts should have called foul on Malkin and been done with it.

German Dairy Farmers Now On Strike
And pouring food down the drain :(

Farmers Market Search Page
USDA provides interactive listing of farmers' markets close to you