All the News That's Fit to Eat: Week of November 13

This week, I couldn't shake a story, "Searching for the Aleppo Sandwich" from my head because it was poignantly reflected on just that - a sandwich. But, it begged the question - when is a sandwich much more than a sandwich? At what point can food become a symbol of humanity itself and its resilience? That opened the floodgates to me reading all about the history and meaning of other foods and culinary traditions from the Middle East, which what led me to stumble upon the other articles included here. In the spirit of next week's celebration of tradition, family and food, these felt like fitting articles.

Searching For The Aleppo Sandwich Pt. 1Sporkful
"These days Aleppo is the symbol of the devastation of the Syrian Civil War. But before that, Aleppo was Syria's food capital -- known for its diverse mix of Middle Eastern, Central Asian, and European food cultures."

Why the Art of Hospitality Means the World to the Middle EastFood52
"Hospitality is a bedrock of cultures and countries across the Middle East, and it manifests in ways that would likely take Americans by surprise. While there are many ways people show it (more on that later), perhaps the grandest expression of Middle Eastern hospitality is—surprise!—through food."

Iraqi Shorbat Addas / Borders Are Not RealAdd a Little Lemon
"What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb? What if our America is not dead but a country that is waiting to be born? What if the story of America is one long labor?… What if this is our nation’s great transition?” – Valarie Kaur"

Spice RoutesThe New Yorker (This is from 2007, but it is so good and fitting with these other articles)
"The first thing one woman would ask another was: What recipes do you have? They exchanged recipes, and sometimes argued about recipes. Was the kibbeh better in Aleppo or Damascus? Were the pastries better in Alexandria or Cairo? Claudia Roden had no interest in cooking then, but it was clear to her that families like hers, who had left their lives behind in the Middle East, had managed to carry one thing to the West with them—and that was the taste of the food they ate at home."

And we are coming up on Thanksgiving, after all, so...

Four good-for-you foods that are uniquely AmericanThe Washington Post
"Sean Sherman, founder of the Sioux Chef and co-author of the new cookbook The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen [is on a] mission is to educate people about indigenous food — the very essence of local, seasonal and sustainable eating — and to help people see the health benefits, taste and abundance of the food that identifies North America. With that in mind, and with the fall harvest in full swing, I decided to highlight a handful of ingredients that are uniquely American — some of the foods that sustained people on these lands for generations and that are still widely available today."

classic hummus || planting my roots

All the News That's Fit to Eat: Week of Nov 6

The saying goes that people either eat to live or live to eat. What I love about the authors in this week's round-up is that they live to eat...and live even more for the story behind what we eat. If you listen to the podcast version of The Splendid Table article here (and you should!), Francis Lam's musing on fry bread are spectacular and moving. Ruby Tandoh beautifully reflects on how a good memoir can satisfy the mind just as comfort food satisfies the belly. Chef Amanda Cohen's powerful call for parity between female and male chefs (and list of 62 female chefs reporters could feature ASAP) packs a punch. 

Exploring indigenous kitchens of North America with The Sioux ChefThe Splendid Table
"Chef Sean Sherman - who also goes by the name The Sioux Chef - has made a name for himself in the Upper Midwest by sourcing and cooking with ingredients originally used by Native American groups across the region. The result is an eye-opening and healthy take on modern cuisine."

Ruby Tandoh: the meaning of a food memoirThe Guardian
"Food pierces to the heart of identity, forging the stuff that makes the bodies and bones of us. Women’s stories of displacement, family, culture and difference are ways of yanking power away from postcolonial stories about “us” and an alien “them”.

I've Worked in Food for 20 Years. Now You Finally Care About Female Chefs?Esquire
From Chef Amanda Cohen: "For the past two weeks, my Twitter feed and email inbox have been filled to overflowing with food journalists begging me to Come Forward With My Story, demanding that I Make a Statement, encouraging me to Speak Out. Apparently, the rules have changed. Women may not have value as chefs, but as victims we’re finally interesting!"

A new cookbook is donating proceeds to Planned Parenthood, another to the ACLULA Times
"When it comes to addressing social injustice, food is both the message and the medium. From ingredient sourcing and labor practices to school lunch policies and professional kitchen culture, the many working parts of our food system offer entree into understanding a scope of issues affecting vulnerable communities. The food space is also where we find powerful tools for effecting change. A new wave of women working in the food world see the humble cookbook as one such tool."

roasted root vegetables with blue cheese and maple balsamic vinaigrette

All the News that's Fit to Eat: Week of Oct 30

Every day, I wake up to a 5:30 a.m. POLITICO morning agriculture news alert, and wind down for the night scrolling through an evening news monitoring report from my colleagues. In between, I'm skimming Twitter, tuning into a food podcast on my walk to work, being heads down in the latest hunger stats - all this is to say, I am drinking from a fire hose when it comes to food news. I need a place to share all the most insightful and thought-provoking articles that come my way, so what better place than Planting My Roots? 

At the close of each week, I'll share an installation in a new series - All The New That's Fit to Eat - where I'll link to the best of the best in food media (at least, to me). Tweet me (@liz_stoltz) the ones the stories that speak to you most, and I'll happily share. 

From Hurricanes to Protest Movements, Food is a Way In, The New York Times
Kim Severson eloquently reflects on her experience reporting on-the-ground during major events and emphasizes that "every news story has a food angle." In light of the chaos of the world today, sometimes there can be nothing better than a nourishing meal. This made for a powerful, beautiful quick read!

Women Aren’t Ruining FoodTaste
"Why do we get so collectively annoyed by food and drink trends that we associate with women? Because it’s an ugly double standard...In general, the language that’s used against women-centric food trends is coded and gendered."

This Is What You Eat When Everyone Is Struggling For FoodBuzzFeed
"There's poverty. Then there's life in Niger, where insurgencies inside and outside its borders are forcing people to forage for food to make up for what international aid can't cover."

Hot Joy's Food Is Almost as Bad as Its Cultural CluelessnessThe Dallas Observer
Heed this advice to avoid the ugly cultural cluster that the owners of the now-closed Hot Joy restaurant found themselves embroiled in: "A useful rule is if you are playing in the domain of moderate to upscale food, then regionalize it...Visit that region at least three times. Immerse yourself. Be curious and humble. Talk to people from there. Cook with people from there. Mostly women. Perhaps take a partner who knows this stuff. Learn the language if you can. Learn the rules in terms of combinations, contrasts, techniques (as you did with French and Italian and Japanese cuisines). Then break the rules. Make interesting food.”

Food Access Advocates Walk The Long Walk ... To The Nearest Grocery StoreNPR
In my own hometown of DC, a 2016 study reported that most (70%) of our supermarkets were packed into our wealthiest neighborhoods. 150,000 residents in poorer areas of the District are served by just three stores. This staggering fact was brought to life during DC Greens' recent Grocery Walk, in which participants walked two miles - the distance far too many in DC have to walk each week for groceries. "I think one of the most powerful impacts of an action like the Grocery Walk is that it silences the myth that poor people don't want healthy food," said Lauren Shweder Biel, executive director of DC Greens.

Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies seem like an appropriate fit for the article "Food is a Way In," don't you think?

Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies seem like an appropriate fit for the article "Food is a Way In," don't you think?

October 2017 Deliveries

One of my favorite Onion articles in the world features Mr. Autumn Man..."who sources speculate loves Thanksgiving, butternut squash soup, homecoming parades, 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,' apple-picking, and haunted hayrides, emerges reliably every year around this time in his traditional uniform, sometimes alternating his iconic sweater with a fleece vest or pullover." Sound familiar, anyone? 

I was channeling Mr. Autumn Man vibes hard this month - from the pumpkin pie breakfast smoothie to the Bedouin Tea-inspired roasted sweet potatoes with warming flavors like cinnamon, cardamom and sage. The last of my summer/fall CSA deliveries, this month packed some heat too. There was some variety of pepper nearly every week - ranging from tame red peppers to scorching scotch bonnets. This month inspired salads, soups, smoothies and (toasted) seeds. The veggies played a starring role in dishes from around the world - Pakistan, Thailand, India, Austria, Greece and California cuisine. October is the perfect time for getting lost in a slow, steady day of cooking and there's no better way to constantly be on the search for new inspiration and techniques than a surprise box of ingredients each week. 

As The Onion writes, "The Autumnal Ambassador is also believed to be an avid consumer of seasonal produce, his home and hearth redolent of roasting Indian corn, gourds, and other root vegetables." It appears me and Mr. Autumn man are not so different... sigh! 

october 2017 csa || planting my roots
pumpkin pie smoothie || planting my roots

pumpkin pie smoothie

celeriac soup with mustard croutons || planting my roots

celeriac soup with mustard croutons

austrian potato salad || planting my roots

austrian potato salad with seared pork, serious eats

toasted pumpkin seeds || planting my roots

curry pumpkin seeds

biryani || planting my roots

kachi yakhni biryani, saveur

lemon and oregano chicken || planting my roots

roasted chicken thighs with lemon and oregano, bon appetit

october 2017 csa deliveries || planting my roots
csa salad || planting my roots

roasted sweet potatoes, apricots, radishes and pickled onions

bedouin sweet potatoes || planting my roots

bedouin tea (fried sage, cinnamon, thyme and cardamom

salad with roasted red peppers, chicken || planting my roots

roasted red peppers and radishes, grilled chicken and kalamata olives

roasted red peppers || planting my roots

roasted red peppers

october 2017 deliveries || planting my roots
Crispy Thai Pork with Cucumber Salad || planting my roots

crispy thai pork with cucumber salad, bon appetit

chicken tikka masala || planting my roots

chicken tikka masala with cauliflower rice 

october 2017 csa || planting my roots
cheesy panko tahini cauliflower || planting my roots

Halva Nice Cream

The recipe index of this site reveals my unabashed love of tahini and pistachios. The perfect blend of creamy and crunchy, this combination can be dialed up or down to be savory or sweet. Sweet takes the form of toast slathered with tahini, a swirl of honey and a sprinkle of crushed pistachios. Savory is a perfectly roasted sweet potato topped with a spoonful of this spectacular sesame paste, a crumble of briny feta and some nutty crunch. 

Halva Nice Cream || Planting My Roots
Halva Nice Cream || Planting My Roots

There is perhaps no more iconic combination of tahini and pistachios than halva, a classic Middle Eastern dessert made of ground sesame seed paste, vanilla, sugar and mix-in's of your choice. I recently heard halva described on The Splendid Table as having the consistency of the center of a Butterfinger, and I can't think of a more perfect comparison.

It's sweet and flaky, and a beautiful palate for an amazing array of other flavors. If you need some inspiration, take a peek at Seed + Mill, where this humble sesame paste is transformed with cardamom, rose oil, cinnamon, sea salt and chocolate. As evidenced by the example below and the ode above, I've always been partial to halva of the pistachio variety. 

Halva Nice Cream || Planting My Roots
Halva Nice Cream || Planting My Roots

Because I love this flavor combination so much, I found myself often turning to a bowl of Greek yogurt, the aforementioned dream combination of seeds and nuts, and a drizzle of honey as a late night snack when I'm nestled in bed re-watching Gilmore Girls. However, after a few evenings of this, it dawned on me how fabulous this would be as an ice cream flavor.

Though tempting, developing an ice cream habit didn't seem like a wise idea. But, then I remembered "nice cream" is a thing that exists. What is nice cream, you ask? It's an ice cream alternative perfect for people who can't eat dairy, or who want all the taste, texture and deliciousness of ice cream with far less of the stuff that weighs you down, or who want to feel like they have a froyo bar in their own kitchen. I love ice cream, but I also want my FlyWheel classes to count for something.

Halva Nice Cream || Planting My Roots

In this case, homemade nice cream can be yours within an hour and just five ingredients. The base is bananas, and the inspiration is 100% pistachio halva. Simply blend bananas, tahini, honey and sea salt into a food processor, pour into a glass or plastic container, top with pistachios and freeze. Much like halva, nice cream is a blank slate for countless flavors. Leave a comment with the combinations you dream up!

Halva Nice Cream || Planting My Roots
Halva Nice Cream || Planting My Roots

Halva Nice Cream

serves two

what you'll need:

2 bananas
1/4 cup tahini
1 tbsp honey
pinch of flaky sea salt
1/4 cup unsalted and roasted pistachios (skip sea salt if you can't find unsalted pistachios)

what you'll do:

  1. In a food processor, blend bananas, tahini, honey and sea salt. Blend until smooth and creamy, scraping sides with spatula as needed. Pour into glass bowl or tupperware. Top with half of pistachios. 
  2. Place in freezer and let rest for at least 40 minutes, or until frozen. When ready to serve, let rest a few minutes to thaw slightly. Top with remaining pistachios and serve immediately.
Halva Nice Cream || Planting My Roots