Friday, October 29, 2010

Things You Should Never Buy: Mayonnaise

It's about time for another "Things You Should Never Buy" post! Today's installment is on mayonnaise. I was always scared to make it myself, because I thought it would be difficult and complicated, but it's really easy!

I needed some mayonnaise to make deviled eggs for a Halloween party I'm having tonight (more on that later). It's not something we usually keep around, and I was not going to buy a whole jar of processed food just to use a couple scoops. So I decided to make some myself!

I scoured the internets for recipes, and ended up just experimenting on my own. All the recipes I found used a whisk to hand mix the mayo, but eff that, ya'll. I busted out the blender. I also read that a warm bowl helps, so I filled the blender with boiling water and poured it out right before I started.

I started with two egg yolks* in the blender. I added maybe a teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar, and a half teaspoonish of mustard powder.

I blended this a little bit, then very slowly starting drizzling in olive oil as I blended. I just kept adding olive oil slowly until it was about the consistency of regular mayonnaise. It ended up being almost 2 cups--which is good because the internets told me that 1 cup of oil to 1 egg is a good ratio.

It was really that easy!

* Make sure you use fresh eggs from a reliable source, since they will not be cooked. Salmonella is probably not fun.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Farmville Gets Real

This article by Peter Smith discusses the new phenomenon of land sharing for gardening. He tells the story of Peter Rothbart, who started We Patch, a garden sharing social network in Seattle:

"Two years ago, Peter Rothbart was riding through Seattle on his bike. He came to a traffic circle. In the center was a 15-by-20-foot patch of soil where the city allows residents to garden. A man was standing there, looking down at a sorry-looking bunch of plants that had been run over and obliterated by a late-night driver. Later that evening, Rothbart went to a barbecue and overheard a woman talking about how she had an expansive lawn that she didn’t have time to take care of. “What if that guy could garden her land?” he said. “It just seemed like a good idea.”

So he started We Patch, one of a dozen new websites designed to connect wannabe gardeners with landowners who have available garden space. Let’s say you have an unused space that might make a good pumpkin patch, you offer it up on the website. If you’re a gardener without a garden, you can find available space—and contact the landowner. Sometimes, it leads to a rendezvous and a handshake agreement. Other times, gardeners and landowners spell out exactly how they’ll share produce and labor from a shared plot of land. It’s like a Craigslist devoted exclusively to gardeners—without the used car parts and hopefully with fewer missed connections."

There are now loads of similar sites across the country. I've written before about using public spaces to grow food for hungry people, but I wonder how we could use a network of shared private spaces to accomplish the same goal. Could organizations that are already working to feed people--shelters, food pantries, faith and community groups--start a network of land sharing that would allow them to feed people with local whole ingredients? Can we add another player to this equation? We're connecting land owners to gardeners. How do we connect gardeners to people who don't have access to fresh local food and don't have the skills or resources to grow it?

Brainstorm with me here, people...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Eleven-year-old Birke Baehr's Speech on Our Food System

Check out this Tedx speech on our food system by Birke Baehr. Sure, it's probably scripted, but the kid's making decent points anyway.