Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wise Traditions 2009 Conference

The annual get-together of Weston A. Price fans, a few weeks from now, outside Chicago, IL.


Approximately 1000 folks registered so far. The cap is 1300.

I am greatly looking forward to it. Aside from anything else, it's going to win the prize for "Best Conference Food Ever". Click here for the menu.

More details on the blog of the WAPF publicist:


Or ask me and I'll tell you what I know.

Raw Milk Buying Club in Cambridge MA

I came across this group a little while ago:


I joined their mailing list, to learn how it worked. Here's the deal:
  • Members place orders on a shared spreadsheet.
  • Every other week, someone (it rotates) drives to Oake Knoll Ayrshires at Lawton's Family Farm in Foxboro, MA to pick up milk (and sometimes a few other things). Then other members drive to the picker-upper's house to get their stuff.
  • There are no surcharges or fees.
  • Money transfer is done via PayPal.
It sounds like it's working out well. If I didn't already have a great source of raw milk, I would be doing it.

If someone reading this blog joins, I'd love to hear about it. (Post a comment or email.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

T.W. Food World of Sausage

Having recently been involved in a flurry of sausage-related activities (making, sourcing, and of course eating), I was excited that T.W. Food, my favorite "special" Boston-area restaurant, was hosting a one-night World of Sausage dinner.

My mom and I attended for an early dinner. The menu gave us only two decisions to make: meat or non-meat, and drinks pairing or no drinks pairing. We both got the meat menu, and we split a drinks pairing.

The (somewhat) short version of the story:
  • Eight different sausages made their way across the table and into our stomachs (counting the dessert ice cream "sausage").
  • The amuse-bouche, perhaps not surprisingly, was sausage (Italian garlic sausage), together with some nice lactofermented vegetables (leek, yellow bean, green pepper, kohlrabi).
  • All of the food was great. My mom's favorite was a frothy borscht that surrounded a Polish smoked bacon sausage (think kielbasa). She was ready to order a whole bowl of the borscht. The dish that stayed with me the most was the choucroute royale. The champagne-cured sauerkraut was pale pink; chopped fine; had just the right combination of sourness, sweetness and saltiness; and sat on a discreet layer of somewhat-mashed potatoes. Three different sausages accompanied it beautifully. To be fair, the scallop and lobster sausage sure was good…and so was the bierwurst with perfect spätzle…and…
  • The drinks pairings complemented the food excellently. Bierwurst and spätzle got a pilsner beer, Polish smoked sausage with red beet-caraway soup got a California Pinot Noir, scallop and lobster sausage in squash sauce got a Willamette Valley Chardonnay, choucroute got an Alsatian Pinot Blanc, the cheese course of Repenaer aged gouda and Bavaria Blu got a dark Belgian ale, and the ice cream "sausage" got a delicious Petite Syrah dessert wine. Note the complete and delightful disregard for typical wine and beer sequencing.
Reasons I love T.W. Food (in no particular order):
  • The food is imaginative, painstakingly and conscientiously prepared, and consistently top-of-the-line. And the menu changes all the time, and you can always sneak a peek at it on the web.
  • The servings and wine pairings are just right—neither meager nor excessive. (Keep in mind that I like to eat and drink, so in the grand scheme of things, the servings are probably quite generous.)
  • It is fantastic to be able to have an appropriate, excellent, and different wine (or beer) with every course. Sometimes the pairings are surprising, other times (like tonight) they are more or less straight-ahead, but always they are thoughtful and good.
  • T.W. Food is not inexpensive, but their prix fixe meals are a stand-out value among Boston restaurants.
  • All of the prix fixe menus include a meat-free option. And the meat-free offerings are every bit as good as the meaty ones. When I've dined with friends who have chosen the meat-free option, I have often found myself stealing things off their plates. So there is truly something for everyone (almost…maybe not for vegans).
  • The restaurant is classy but unpretentious. The service is great but not fussy. The place has a good feeling to it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Am Quoted in NOW Toronto Magazine

NOW is a full-color, magazine-format Toronto weekly with a circulation of 395,000 and an impressive website. The closest thing that Boston has is the Phoenix, although it is black-and-white tabloid format, and its circulation is smaller (253,000).

Elizabeth Bromstein wrote an article about fermented foods in the alt.health column of NOW entitled Potion in a Pickle.

She quotes me in the article.

Click here to read it. (Scroll to the bottom to see my quote.)


Monday, October 12, 2009

New England Cheesemaking Supply Company (And School)

Last Sunday I attended the 6-hour Cheesemaking 101 class at New England Cheesemaking Supply Company in Ashfield, MA.

It was an entirely positive experience. As one would hope, I learned about making cheese, and enjoyed immersing myself in the cheesemaking culture, as it were. Beyond that, I saw a great case study of a thriving business based on one person's passion for a distinctly non-mainstream activity. The proprietress, Ricki Carroll, literally "wrote the book" on home cheesemaking. She has been running New England Cheesemaking for 30 years, is a recognized authority in her field, and can decide when and how often to give her classes, which always have waiting lists. And the more classes she gives, the more cheesemaking supplies she sells. Not bad!

Much of what I learned during the day can be found in her book, which I recommend to anyone who is interested in making anything beyond the occasional ricotta.

I won't try to reproduce her book here.

A few interesting tips I picked up:
  • If you rub an ice cube around the bottom of a pan before cooking milk in it, and you then avoid touching the bottom of the pan (with your fingers, a spoon, a thermometer, or whatever), it is claimed that milk won't burn to the bottom of the pan. Something about Brownian motion, surface tension, and the like. I am curious if this trick could be applied in other cooking contexts to good effect. I'll have to run some experiments. (My general strategy for not scorching pans has been not to use thin, cheap pans that heat unevenly. I have found that Calphalon Tri-Ply pans heat very nicely, and don't break the bank.)

  • When milk does get cooked onto pots and pans (or anything else, I suppose), wash with cold water first. The cold water works much better for getting milk goo off. Then wash with hot water.

  • If you are going to heat milk on a stove, it is worth getting a thermometer that clamps onto the side of your pan, so that you aren't constantly holding your thermometer (and your hand) over a pot of hot liquid.

  • There are (at least) two gauges of cheesecloth: one is called simply "cheesecloth", and another is "butter muslin". The latter is finer, and is better suited to straining yogurt, for instance (or, as you might guess, to making butter).

  • For yogurt: Heating your milk to 185°F or even 200°F before cooling and innoculating results in a significantly thicker yogurt than heating to 180°F, which is what I had been doing. This I have verified experimentally!

  • More yogurt: When you have just finished making a new batch of yogurt, consider setting some aside as a starter right then, rather than using the "dregs" of the current batch to start your next batch. Your starter can be kept in its own jar, undisturbed, until you need it, rather than being exposed to a parade of spoons and air and whatnot. Better yet, freeze your starter yogurt in ice-cube trays and put the yogurt cubes into a freezer bag, and they'll be good for months. (Be sure to label the bag.)

  • If you have wondered why Scandinavian gjetost-style cheeses are so markedly different from other cheeses, here's the reason: they are made from whey (the liquid that's left over when you're done making other cheeses), reduced until it becomes thick. So it would be accurate to say that gjetost is the complement of typical cheeses, in the set-theoretic sense (except for the fact that some milk and cream are typically added back into the gjetost to enrich it).

Friday, October 2, 2009

Making Yogurt (video)

(If you can't see the video above, click here; if that doesn't work, then click here.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sauerkraut Demo, This Saturday 12:30PM-1PM, Rain Or Shine


I'll be doing a demonstration of how to make sauerkraut this Saturday from 12:30PM-1PM on Dewey Square, diagonally across from South Station in Boston. Admission is free! Come check it out!

Rain or shine!

I'll be using cabbage from Keown Farms, one of the vendors from the Boston Public Market Sponsored by Rodale at Dewey Square.

My demo will be part of a big fair running from 12PM-6PM on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. For more details, click here.