Tradition, Teams & Texas – a menu for game day
January 24th, 2011
08:00 PM ET
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CNN photojournalist Jeremy Harlan is based in Washington D.C. He and his wife are having a baby and you can read all about it. And wow, does he love BBQ.

The mad dash for chips and chicken limbs has begun.

With the Steelers and Packers having secured their spots in Arlington, Texas for Super Bowl XLV, folks across the country soon will blitz their local grocery stores in search of the perfect snacks for a Super Bowl Sunday soiree.

In our household, this is not taken lightly. My Super Bowl menu requires research, planning, imagination, and execution of the highest degree. After all, short of Thanksgiving, Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest culinary gorge-fest in this country. If you’re inviting friends and family over, you need to bring your best game plan. Chips, salsa, and a veggie tray may work in the preseason, but they won’t cut the mustard come February.

I begin sculpting my feast weeks in advance. For me, the hardest part is finding a balance between the dishes that returning guests always expect, and new additions that aren’t worth punting by the second quarter.

This year, I’ve concocted a simple formula to help me narrow down the options: Tradition, Teams, and Texas.

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Filed under: Holidays • Super Bowl • Tailgating

5@5 - Matt Liotta
January 24th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Gardening: 'tis not an activity for the freshly manicured nor those who prefer to remain smudge-free. It's dirty work, you dig?

But, what if you could take the soil out of the gardening? In the case of hydroponics, you can do just that. You don't have to worry about getting your hands dirty because there is no dirt; mineral-rich water supplies all the essential nutrients that the plant would have typically absorbed from the soil.

From rooftops to parking lots, hydroponic systems are taking root - particularly in urban areas strapped for green pastures. "It's the farming of the future," according to PodPonics founder and CEO Matt Liotta, whose hydroponic growing systems utilize used shipping containers to grow produce.

Five Reasons to Eat Hydroponic Produce: Matt Liotta

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Filed under: 5@5 • Think

Cochon 555 - the battle for heritage pork supremacy
January 24th, 2011
04:30 PM ET
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When the digestif of Benton's pig fat and Eagle Rare bourbon arrived at the judges' table on Sunday evening, it was not the first pork-based beverage we had been served. That distinction went to the "fat washed" cachaça and pineapple cocktail (replete with lavender bacon skewer) mixed up by the night's champion, chef Brad Farmerie of New York City's Public restaurant.

Farmerie went trotter to trotter against four similarly pork-obsessed chefs to win the New York City leg of Cochon 555 - and a space at the trough for the Aspen Grand Cochon finals. Atlanta-based Brady Lowe established the competition in 2009 to raise awareness of farmers who were going to extensive lengths to sustainably raise "heritage" breeds of pigs - like the Duroc, Red Wattle, Mangalitsa and Tamworth - that have fallen out of favor with U.S. purveyors and chefs.

Not only are the pigs harder to get - they also take longer to reach slaughter weight and are often smaller than those that are raised on factory farms. Farmers who opt for these rarefied breeds generally feed their precious herds on an open-pasture diet, free from hormones and growth agents, akin to how the pig would naturally forage. The process tends to hog a whole lot of time and cash. So why the bother?

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Filed under: Bacon • Business and Farming News • Events • Farms • News • Pork • Small Business

Lunchtime poll - coo-coo for coupons?
January 24th, 2011
12:45 PM ET
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Catching up on a little bit of TV this weekend, we ran across an episode of Mike & Molly the TiVo had decided we'd find amusing. It wasn't entirely wrong about that; we've loved Melissa McCarthy ever since her stint as chef Sookie St. James on the dearly departed Gilmore Girls. We did, however, run up against a joke we've heard repeated ad infinitum in sitcoms, films, dating columns and comedy acts.

The titular Mike comes into possession of a free chalupa coupon after his beloved Bulls win a game against the Celtics and score over 100 points in the process. Character after character cautions his not to take his date to the restaurant just because he's got a coupon, implying that it'd make him look like a tightwad.

Would you indeed look askance at a coupon clipper who was attempting to woo you?

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Filed under: Buzz • Lunchtime Poll

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