Saturday, January 2, 2010

Slow Food Thoughts...

As I sit here waiting for my hamburger bun dough to rise (2 hours for the first rise, then 2 more rises after it), my locally raised hormone & antibiotic-free, grass-fed picnic roast to cook (6 hours total), I plan my next creation, the homemade BBQ sauce.
All of this work for a dinner of pulled pork sandwiches that I'm sure we'll love. However, I bet someone out there is thinking "what a huge waste of time! You could buy pre-made pork with Jack Daniels BBQ sauce & burger buns at the grocery store for probably less than $7, microwave it and be done!"
So why do it the "slow" way?
Well, it's hard to explain, but as I was here in my kitchen with my laptop (a.k.a. the cookbook where most of my recipes are stored), I started reading more about the Slow Food Movement. I am familiar with what it is but I really didn't know much about who invented it or any of the movement's history.
I first found it on wikipedia, but then found the "Slow Foods USA" website, which led me to a blog that I completely fell in love with and something I'd like to share here: "Why I Go Slow"
When people ask me why I put all this time and effort into my cooking and baking, I think I will always direct them to that blog post. The author, Jerusha, explains it so much better than I ever could. Have a read, enjoy, and definitely think about what you're eating, where it comes from and why you are buying it if you can make it.
Now I realize some people HATE cooking, and they won't understand the passion some of us feel for what we do in our kitchens, but if it even inspires a bit of pause, a few thoughts before someone grabs that fast food combo meal, that's at least one step...
To live the Slow Food lifestyle definitely takes a lot of time and commitment, but for me it's worth the investment. I love taking the time to really focus on what's going into my food, and consequently my body. Plus, I just plain enjoy the process. I love being able to cook or bake something, take pride in it and while I'm eating it think, "I created this when most people would just buy it pre-made. I created something wonderful that is making us happy right now". Most people just EAT mechanically because we have to. I think from now on, as often as possible I am going to eat because I want to enjoy food...big difference.

So how did I change? Honestly, at first it was money. I hate grocery shopping. I hate paying for ANYthing that I know I can probably make myself. That turned into a lot of fun with "hmm. maybe instead of BUYING bread I can just make it!"
Also, I read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. The information he provided about HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and how much corn we ingest created in me a person who started reading every label at the store, seeking out the "hidden" HFCS.
That was how I decided to start making my own dressings, sauces,'s amazing and frightening how much "Stuff" is in food that doesn't really need to be there. If you make many items yourself, you don't need all those additives and preservatives, none of which is good for you anyway! Well, that's how I began to look at it. Once I started making my own breads, sauces, dips, cakes, crackers and other things I couldn't believe how much better they also tasted. Plus, I love 'customizing'. I made my own version of Sloppy Joe sauce that was phenomenal. My "official taster" (Pinky) told me to just give him the bowl and a spoon and "cut out the middle man" (the bun & meat) To me, that's true success! I love playing with ingredients, experimenting. Since I love to paint, I can really see the connection in the way creativity comes through in both disciplines. "A pinch of this, a teaspoon of that" is similar to adding different light and shadows in a painting, blending colors...
And on that colorful note, I leave you for now. I'll be updating later tonight or tomorrow (depending on how full I am from dinner tonight!) with my recipes for the hamburger buns, pulled pork and BBQ sauce along with many yummy, drool-causing photos.
Til' then, think before you eat...


  1. Torta Pasqualina - Easter Tort Recipe

    This is a savory torta, similar to a quiche. It make an excellent appetizer or side dish. Make it on its own and serve with a salad. I did not use fresh spinach or artichokes due to time and availability constraints but you can if you want to. The quantity would be 2 pounds of fresh spinach and 5 artichokes. (Chop artichokes and cook until tender – THEN add the spinach. Follow the rest of the prep as written)
    Torta Pasqualina
    Easter Tart
    • 2 (10 oz. ea) packages of frozen chopped spinach
    • One small jar of marinated artichokes
    • salt
    • black pepper, freshly ground
    • ¼ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 8 oz grated Parmeggian and Mozzarella cheese
    • 2 sheets of pastry crust
    • 8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
    • ¼ cup of pignoli (pine nuts)
    • 3 Tbs butter
    1. Put 2 Tbs butter in a pot and melt over a medium heat.
    2. Add the spinach and artichokes to the pot and cook until tender, about 6 minutes.
    3. Remove and drain the spinach and artichokes.
    4. Add 1 Tbs butter to the pot and melt.
    5. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until just tender.
    6. Return the spinach to the pot and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
    7. Stir in the beaten eggs, pine nuts and grated cheese.
    8. Line a 9” flan tin with one sheet of pastry. Press up the edges well.
    9. Spread the spinach and cheese mixture over the pastry crust.
    10. Top with the second pastry sheet. Pinch the edges together to seal. Prick the top with a fork. *
    11. Bake at 400F for 35 minutes, until golden brown.

    Pastry crust:
    3 cups unbleached flour
    ¾ c lard
    1 c cold water
    1 tsp. salt
    2 tbs. dry basil
    1tsp chopped olives.
    Make a mound of the flour with a dip in the center. Pour in the lard and water and fold it all in thoroughly, Add remaining ingredients and knead for about 25 minutes. Roll it out and make two sheets. I used a round baking dish but this will do a 9 X 12 baking pan.
    Line the baking pan with one sheet. Dump in your filling and smooth it out evenly. *Cut the second sheet of pastry to make a basket weave on the top of the tort. It looks prettier than a solid sheet of crust. Pinch the edges together.
    Per my step-son, I covered the edges of the tort the first 15 minutes of baking so they wouldn’t brown and burn faster than the rest of the tort.

  2. Thanks SO much for sharing! I'm definitely going to try it! : )