Recipes Brooklyn Food Conference and a Beautiful Sesame Bean Salad

The call went out. And the foodies poured in. The people who pickle and the people who vend kitchenware. The people who grow community gardens and the people who grow kombucha. The Slow Food people and the Just Food people. The vegans and the grass-fed meat vendors. They came, they spoke and they distributed their recycled paper brochures. Disappointingly, the workshop I really wanted to attend (Permaculture : an introduction to ecological design systems fro sustainability) was stuffed to the walls with folks pouring out into the hallways of John Jay High School.

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Recipes Recession Proof: Rumsford’s Soup

If you read much food writing, you may have encountered writer MFK Fisher’s notes on thrifty cuisine. In her 1942 recession-proof tome, How to Cook a Wolf she wrote of an inexpensive, nutritious meat-grain subsistence loaf (writer Jeffrey Steingarten later taste-tested that very recipe in The Man Who Ate Everything). But far earlier than that, in the late 1700s, a remarkably multi-talented scientist/inventor named [Benjamin Thompson](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Thompson “Wikipedia”) (later known as Count von Rumford) was also interested in nutritious subsistence food, which led him to the creation of Rumford Soup.

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Recipes Day 20: The Scarborough Loaf

*This post marks Day 20 of Miss Ginsu’s 2008 Advent Calendar. Like me, you may know a few vegetarians. Like me, you may have once been one of those vegetarians. In those days, I was always a little befuddled at the holidays. I mean, feast foods are pretty proscribed for omnivores (1. roast something 2. add starchy sides). Those who shun meat are left without a lot of festive “center of the plate” foods.

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Dear Miss Ginsu: Poisoned by Bay Leaves?

Dear Miss Ginsu, I have a culinary/biology question. I made black bean soup yesterday — the kind where you blend the beans into a purée. I took out the bay leaf, blended the beans and finished the soup. Then remembered I actually had two bay leaves in the pot. Today I was in, um, intestinal distress, hot flashes, dizzy, etc. Could the bay leaf be the culprit? — Bad Belly

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Recipes The Problem with Chickpea Masala

You know what the biggest problem with my Chickpea Masala is? It smells great. It tastes wonderful. It looks… homely. Oh, sure. I can toss some chopped cilantro or some parsley over the top of it. But come on… that’s just putting lipstick on a pig. (Or is that a dog? Who knows these days?) But we can say with certainty that curry is really not a photogenic dish. This is really the problem with all the bowl-foods.

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Recession-Proof Recipes: A Market-Driven Bean Salad
Recession-Proof Recipes: A Market-Driven Bean Salad

Back around tax time when I started this series, my basic black bean soup seemed like a really tasty idea, but after a week of 90-degree days, I must admit that thick, hearty soups seem far less appealing. Simply turning on the stove seems far less appealing. Thank goodness for canned beans. They are such cheap, tasty protein… no flames (or additional heat) required. I’ve been making simple bean salads with my CSA vegetables for the past two weeks.

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Recession-Proof Recipes: Summertime Succotash
Recession-Proof Recipes: Summertime Succotash

It’s really, truly summer when the sweet corn arrives. Then we see the the zucchini and tomatoes. And that’s when it’s time for summer succotash — one of the most lovely, fresh and versatile of seasonal salads. By definition, a succotash consists of beans and corn — and it’s sometimes baked. But the succotashes I’ve always known have been simple summer salads composed of just-shucked sweet corn, ripe tomatoes, beans (sometimes green beans, sometimes lima beans or kidney beans) and maybe even some jalapeño, slices of zucchini, fresh-chopped basil, fresh parsley or cubes of smoky bacon.

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Recipes Recession-Proof Recipes: Simple French Lentil Salad

Never does a cold salad sound so good as on a sticky, hot, lethargic day. That’s when there’s nothing finer than slumping over to the fridge and finding a tasty stash tucked away. Yes, some generous former version of yourself (perhaps that productive weekend you?) had the foresight to prepare and place this delight in the fridge for your current lazy enjoyment. Thanks, past-tense self. You rule. Using the spicy horseradish mustard whipped up in last week’s post, it’s quick (and tasty) work for you (or some former version of you) to make a one of this household’s summertime favorites… the French Lentil Salad .

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Recipes Cassou-lazy: A Cassoulet for Working People

In some book somewhere, Julia Child has a fantastic quote about cassoulet. I can’t locate it at the moment, but it’s something about cassoulet being a food ideally suited for a lumberjack. In Manitoba. In January. Like I said, it’s awesome. And it’s hidden deep inside some text that apparently isn’t part of Project Gutenberg. In the readily indexed Larousse Gastronomique, we find that cassoulet is “A dish, originally from Languedoc, which consists of haricot (navy) beans cooked in a stewpot with pork rinds and seasonings.

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Recipes Recession-Proof Recipes: Black Bean Soup

Last week when I started up this series on good eating for bad financial times, I mentioned roasting, which magically makes just about anything tastier on the cheap. This week, I want to throw in a good word for beans. Packed with protein and fiber (nutritionists love ‘em!), readily available, totally cheap (even cheaper if you soak and cook the dried ones), vegetarian-friendly and delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner, beans are classic in haut cuisine and poverty fare alike.

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About Me

Miss Ginsu is a nom-nom-nom de plume of Leitha Matz, who worked at Tabla and FreshDirect in NYC, wrote about the food scene from 2004 to 2009 in Brooklyn and presently lives in Berlin. Occasionally seen on TV cooking segments, Leitha has also written for FreshDirect, contributed to Cee Cee Berlin, The Food52 Cookbook and has been interviewed/quoted in The Food Keeper as well as The Washington Times and Salon.

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